"Japan's real crisis" (Cover Story, May 18) explains that the problems are caused by hidden debt and that the prescription from the U.S. of lowering taxes could make the debt problem worse. On the balance sheet, however, Japan compares favorably with the U.S. Although Japan has high debt, it also has the largest rate of personal savings in the world. The U.S., with relatively small debt, has virtually no private savings.

If Japan can find a way to use its private savings to liquidate its public debt, then it could again enjoy the high growth rates of the four prior decades.

Bruce Dailey

San Jose, Calif.

Foreigners with a superficial understanding of the country routinely place blame on either Japan's politicians or bureaucrats. For what it's worth, Japan is a democracy. Its policies are the result of elected politicians. Three cheers for Robert Neff who pointed out that the Japanese people are also to blame.

Kenji Yuhaku

Edgewater, N.J.

You suggest that Japan's closed markets and its unwillingness to change are leading to ruin. Yet Japanese products continue to drive U.S. competitors to the brink. Fuji Photo Film Co.'s predatory practices have forced Eastman Kodak Co. to take drastic measures in the face of a flood of low-priced photographic products that have unlimited access to our market. The Japanese auto manufacturers now have a large share of the U.S. retail car market, and they are threatening to take even more.

It seems that Japan Inc. is doing well as it continues to export its problems, encouraged by the weak yen. From my perspective, the Japanese are winning the trade war, and America's selfish demand for low prices today and "to hell with tomorrow" is terrifying.

Steve Wagg

Rochester Hills, Mich.

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