Afterward

"People deny reality. They fight against real feelings caused by real circumstances. They build mental worlds of shoulds, ouhgts, nd might-have-beens. Real changes begin with real appraisal and acceptance of waht is. Then realistic action is possible."

These are the words of david Reynolds, and American exponent of Japanese Morita psycotherapy. He is speaking of personal behavior, but his comments are applicable to the economic behavior of nations, as well.

Sooner or later, the United States must come to grips with the fact that Japan has become the leading industrial nation in the world. The Japanese have the longest lifespan. They have the highest employment, the highest literacy, the smallest gap between rich adn poor. Their manufactured products have the highest quality. They have the best food. The fact that a country the size of Montana, with half our population, will soon have an economy equal to ours.

But they haven't succeeded by doing things our way. Japan is not a Western industrial state; it is organized quite differently. And the Japanese have invented a new kind of trade - adversarial trade, trade like war, trade intended to wipe out the competition - which America has failed to understand for several decades, The United States keeps insisting the Japanese do things our way. But increasingly, their response is to ask, why should we change? We are doing better than you are. And indeed they are.

What should the American response be? It is absurd to blam eJapan for successful behavior, or to suggest that they slow down. The Japanese consider such American reactions childish whinning, and they are right. It is more appropriate for the United States to wake up, to see japan clearly, and to act realistically.

In the end, that will mean major changes in the United States, but it is inevitably the task of the weaker partner to adjust to the demands of a relationship. And the United States is now without question the weaker partner in any economic discussion with Japan.

A century ago, when Admiral Perry's American fleet opned the nation, Japan was a feudal society. The japanese realized they had to change, and they did. Starting in the 1860s, they brought in thousands of Western specialists to advise them on how to change their government and their industries. The entire society underwent a revolution. There was a second convulsion, equally dramatic, after World War II.

But in both cases, the Japanese faced the challenge squarely, and met it.They didn't say, let the Americans buy our land and our insitutions and hope they will teach is to do things better. Not at all. The Japanese invited thousands of experts to visit - and sent them home again. We would do well to take the same approach. The Japanese are not our saviors, They are our competitors. We should not forget it.