Paul J. Scalise
What would happen if Japan experts were forced
to live in the same room? To answer this question we have resurrected
a piece originally posted on the now-defunct Dead Fukuzawa Society
(DFS), an Internet discussion group dedicated to Japanese issues.
In it, we imagine one possible scenario. It’s a simple thought experiment
in keeping with that basic nugget of wisdom relayed to us by Jean-Paul
Sartre: “Hell, after all, is other people.”
AVERAGE U.S. CITIZEN asks sheepishly: “Excuse me, yes, I’m sorry
to bother you all, but could you possibly tell me a little bit about
Japan? I don’t know the first thing about it. You see, I heard my
congressman votes on one of those committees or something and I
just wanted to make sure he is doing the right thing...for America.
You know, before the election. Give it to me straight: what should
I know about Japan?”
Answer: Well, any well-informed person should know that…
It’s a peaceful state.
-Edwin O. Reischauer
It’s a belligerent state!
It’s a highly nuanced state.
It’s a highly simplistic state!
- James Clavell
It's a headless state.
-Karel van Wolferen
It's a democratic state!
It's a mentally repressed state!
It’s just a boring state.
More like a US protectorate, not a state
Or should we call it an entrepreneurial state?
Actually, it's a capitalist developmental state.
More like a bankrupt state lately.
Or a crony capitalist state, to be exact.
Let’s just call it the headquarters state.
A corporate state, really, the beginning of a “Japan Inc.”
Which lasted 5 minutes before we had the end of “Japan, Inc.”
Making it, yes, a soured state...
Or perhaps just a normal state, after all.
But a misunderstood state, nonetheless.
(Psst!) [whispering] Over here! Listen to me, son: you want to know
what Japan is? I’ll tell you. It’s a superior state. It’s a state
filled with clever bureaucrats secretly bent on taking over the
world by dint of their huge trade surpluses and expanding foreign
assets. Only I have been bestowed with this precious knowledge.
Go write your congressman, quickly! And while you’re at it, see
if you can get me an appointment. He won’t return my calls…
STUNNED AVERAGE U.S. CITIZEN: “Rrrrrright. Thanks. So in that
case, we should. . .?”
We should contain Japan!
We should rescue Japan.
We should cut a deal with Japan.
We should stiff arm Japan.
We should pull our troops OUT of Japan.
Actually, we should keep our troops IN Japan!
-Joseph Nye, Jr.
No, we shouldn’t!
Yes, we should!
No, we shouldn’t!!
Yes, we should!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen-- if I might interject, it has come to my attention.
Oh shut up!
BEMUSED AVERAGE U.S. CITIZEN: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.
on here? Who are you people? What are you talking about?”
We were talking about the coming war with Japan.
Actually, we were talking about bargaining with Japan.
The clash with Japan.
The healthy relationship with Japan.
The sick relationship with Japan.
REPENTENT Average U.S. Citizen: “Rrrrrrright, maybe this was
a mistake. I should be going. . .”
The only mistake you made, my friend, is underestimating the Japanese
- Thomas Flannigan
Yes, consider the bureaucracy. . .
There's too much of it.
No, there's not enough!
MITI's was to blame.
MITI was to thank!
The MoF [Ministry of Finance] is their problem!
Actually, the MoF is their savior!
-R. Taggart Murphy
But their financial institutions are incompetent.
As well as MITI itself!
You’re all stupid, I say! Japan is an economic dynamo set to overtake
United States by the year 2000!
Average U.S. Citizen: Gulp “Excuse me. . .”
Excuse nothing! Japan is finished!
It doesn't look good.
Japan is at a crossroads.
It’s a new social revolution!
With old social capital.
But they're buying up everything!
-Rep. Traficant of Ohio
Look at the FDI!
Japan is Number One!
That’s why business is war!
It's the second Pearl Harbor!
-T. Boone Pickens
I knew they were reading Friedrich List!
Trade Deficit Parasites!
Peddlers of airport fiction!
Go do some research!
I did and we're de-industrializing.
It comes from competition with the Japanese.
We need a strategic trade policy!
It makes perfect sense.
And I'll support it!
And this is coming from someone who still believes in creationism.
Irate Average U.S. Citizen: “Okay, who locked the door?! [jiggling
the handle] I can’t get out of here! Help!! I’m starting to get
angry. . .”
Efficiency is all that matters, not your insignificant feelings.
And Japan is NOT efficient.
Just look at its long-term return on capital.
Irrelevant! All it needs is fiscal stimulus.
The convoy will survive.
-C. Fred Bergsten
No, actually the convoy will sink.
Agents of Influence!
Members, it has come to my attention that I may have breached the
bounds of acceptable behavior by. . .
Hey, Hash, you're a nutbar, and see my web site to prove it!
Average U.S. Citizen: “Would you all just go away please.
Does this door need a key? Why isn’t it opening? (jiggling the handle)
Why isn’t the door opening?! Let me out of here!”
The door to understand Japan has never opened, my friend. Lamentably,
I -- Iwato Hashimori -- have for many years tried to bring a more
refined perspective to those less fortunate souls desperately trying
to seek truth and enlightenment. . .
Average U.S. Citizen: “What the？ Who are the heck you?
Get your hand off my shoulder!! Get away from me!”
Ehem, getting back to the Japan Question.
Is it a question?
We should really be discussing amakudari.
Or it’s post-Meiji ideology.
And why it hasn’t apologized enough for the war.
Better ask Nakasone first.
No. Ask me!
I'm surrounded by mental midgets.
What was the question?
We were asking about its future.
No. We were talking about its past.
It was modern.
It was traditional.
It was closed!
It was open!
-Fuji Film, Co.
We knew it!
-The Wall Street Journal
So did we!
America is triumphant, I tell you!
America is doomed!
I need a drink...
-Paul J. Scalise
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