THE JAPANESE POWER GAME: What It Means for America by William J. Holstein

THE JAPANESE POWER GAME: What It Means for America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cautionary audit of Japan Inc. that effectively dismisses as wishful thinking any notion that the island nation is becoming more westernized, let alone ready to open domestic markets and moderate its export drive. Holstein (an associate editor at Business Week) offers an eye-opening overview of recent political events and scandals that have convinced many observers that Japanese institutions are undergoing fundamental change, if not reform. Press coverage of pay offs, ministerial resignations, and other convulsive developments to the contrary, he concludes, an aroused citizenry has not risen up to smite a corrupt system; nor have women and socialism made substantive advances. As a practical matter, the author shows, an increasingly assertive alliance of powerful bureaucrats and business leaders has simply closed ranks; moreover, this shadowy cabal of low-profile insiders continues to keep the country on an expansionist course, with no immediate intention of accommodating the demands of trading partners. In fact, he points out, Japan is playing a decidedly more visible role not only in East Asia but also Europe and North America. Having made a persuasive case for the proposition that a docile, authority-conscious public won't resist the consensual status quo, any time soon at least, Holstein considers how the US might best respond to the competitive challenge posed by Japan's awesome economic might. Among other things, he argues that the nation must rise above outworn antiprotectionist principles to formulate more pragmatic industrial and investment as well as trade policies on a strategic basis. Failure to do so, the author warns, could result in the equivalent of commercial colonization--an outcome that would put at grave risk the liberal cultural values Americans hold dear. A genuine contribution to the vital debate now joined over the socioeconomic implications of a Mondo Nipponica.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Scribners