Wednesday, 21 March 2001
The Editors, Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
re: Commentary: "U.S. Won't Let Japan Inc. Get Moving Again," Chalmers Johnson, Wednesday, March 21, 2001
The picture presented by Chalmers Johnson ("U.S. Won't Let Japan Inc. Get Moving Again") is not entirely consistent. The "industrial policy" that Johnson says was "pioneered and perfected" in Japan was created and "perfected" by the very same political party he now says has rolled over and played dead for the United States, in deference to U.S. "hegemony." Why it suddenly changed its ways is unexplained.
The truth is that the bad loans and inflated asset values that have burst the Japanese bubble, but which enabled Japan to deeply frighten many Americans in the 1980s, were part and parcel of the very same industrial policy that Johnson praises. A more common term now, after the Asian downturn of the 1990s, is "crony capitalism," which owes nothing to American laissez faire and everything to the social interdependence that Johnson and his mentor, the mediaevalist John Gray, find preferable in East Asian culture.
It isn't that Johnson knows what Japan needs. It's just that he knows he doesn't like the United States.
Kelley L. Ross