IS JAPAN BENT ON DOMINATION?
Your Apr. 10 issue, with various articles on Japan ("Japan's new identity," Cover Story), paints a rather alarming picture of an emerging giant, sword in hand, whose dominating ambition seems to be hidden in the shadows.
What was never stated outright is the question of whether Japan in the '90s is deeply reminiscent of prewar Imperial Japan. There seem to be hints of the philosophy that gave rise to Japan's rallying cry before World War II: a strategy to exert influence via economic power rather than military might, using that power as both a defensive and an offensive weapon. Although a defensive posture can be explained by the fear of
a growing and stronger China in the Far East, there is also the offensive mind-set of an island nation bent on expansion of territorial riches measured not in geographical terms but in derived economic value.
Economic dependence can be just as strong a weapon as military occupation and much less costly, but with all the benefits flowing to the conqueror.
Let us hope that the premise of an Imperial Japan is not forthcoming and that the Japanese will use their economic muscle to improve life in the emerging nations they operate in, and foster peaceful economic coexistence in the Pacific Rim, thereby benefiting the world as a whole.
Lawrence A. Beer
Paradise Valley, Ariz.
As a non-American and a student of Asia, I am appalled at the shortsightedness of the American attitude toward Japan. Whenever the yen appreciates against the dollar, there is a spate of articles such as your Cover Story.
The gist of all this is that Japan is some monstrous, monolithic entity bent on subverting the "American way." This is remarkably silly. The real threat to the U.S. is not Japan but China.
There are two possibilities, both fraught with danger. The first is that China succeeds wildly. Then imagine an alliance that marries Japanese brain to Chinese brawn. The second possibility is that China implodes into open fratricidal war. This will certainly spill over into Southeast Asia and South Asia. With plenty of nuclear weapons, the Chinese can wreak a lot of havoc.
In either scenario, the U.S. needs Japan as a counterweight and an ally. Instead of alienating Japan and blaming it for your own budgetary profligacy and lack of competitiveness, you Americans ought to cooperate with Tokyo more, not be shrill scolds.
In our current circumstances of developing an export-intensive profitable economy, I thought the issue of Japan's turning to East Asia was very timely, well-written, and thoughtful. I believe Japan is trying to develop an economic community similar to the European Union and NAFTA to buffer global economic tremors and landslides.
Basically, for the U.S. to escape nationalistic and regionalistic parochialism in Europe and East Asia, it has to overcome the economic weakness we now have and make a charge at the EC and East Asia. Easier said than done, I'd say. I believe I might not live long enough to see U.S. workers and leaders develop the seamless social, political, and ideological unity that Asians find possible to achieve because of their philosophy and temperament.
Lawrence E. Dunlap
In response to your editorial "What Japan's Asia tilt means" (Apr. 10), I say shame on this country and the leaders running it. More so, shame on the American people who put them there and do nothing about it. This trade problem is not going to go away on its own. It's long overdue that we as a nation stand up strong against the Asian bloc and start putting our interests in the foreground.
Anthony R. Zopich
Staten Island, N.Y.