December 15, 2012

In Japan, Life Is Still Good

Ezra Vogel, Washington Post

AP Photo

I wrote “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” in 1979 to describe some things Japan was doing as well or better than any other country. I believed that we Americans should respond to Japan’s rapid growth by learning from it rather than complaining and launching trade wars. I chose the shocking title to wake Americans up: I did not argue that Japan would be the world’s largest economy, even though many who did not read the book mistakenly took that as my meaning. Many things I described — Japan’s low crime rate, high education level, and the quality of manufacturing and of the welfare system — still exist, as the country faces an election this weekend and choices about its future. But some of Japan’s strengths in 1979, such as the...

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