People have asked me what happened to the Fingleton Invitation. The answer is nothing.
Some months ago I invited Ed Lincoln, a former Tokyo-based economic adviser to the U.S. government, to join me for a public discussion of the Japanese economy. In his capacity as economic adviser to the then U.S. ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale, Ed had been particularly influential in leading the American public to accept that the Japanese economy had somehow lost its mojo after the Tokyo stock market crash of 1990. I have consistently taken the opposite view that, slumping stock and real estate prices notwithstanding, the underlying Japanese economy has done rather well. Indeed, in key ways, particularly in the most rarefied areas of manufacturing, it has raced far ahead of the United States.
Beginning in 1998, I have on several occasions offered to debate the dozen or so leading proponents of the “basket case Japan” thesis. I have had no takers.
Ed would be a particularly relevant interlocutor, and, to cut a long story short, I offered last summer to make a $10,000 donation to his favorite good cause if he would come forward. I mentioned earthquake relief in Tohoku as a particularly appropriate cause. I have not had a reply but my offer is still open.
I have summarized my argument in an article in the January 8th issue of the New York Times Sunday Review. To read it, click here.
The letter below, to the Clinton administration’s chief Japan economist, is self-explanatory.
Having heard nothing from you over the summer despite several private attempts to make contact, I must now press publicly for an answer.
As you know, I have offered to donate $10,000 to your favorite charity if you are prepared to join me for a public discussion of the hidden contradictions in the “lost decades” story of Japan. On several occasions since 1998, I have extended similar invitations to nearly a dozen other key commentators, most of them securities analysts, yet none has come forward.
Posted in American decline, Global economy, Japan, Press
Tagged debate, ed lincoln, edward j lincoln, electricity output, imf, japan, lost decades, world bank
As I have repeatedly documented at this website, the story of Japan’s two lost decades is a myth. But if I am right, how come so many ostensibly reliable observers seem to disagree with me? There are several reasons, none of which reflect particularly well on the reliability of the Western press. Here I explain one of them.
Western views on Japanese economics have long been shaped disproportionately by a few Tokyo-based economic analysts working for “prestigious” Wall Street investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Unfortunately these people are rarely disinterested torchbearers of truth. Not to put too fine a point on it, they profit from pumping misinformation into the Western press.
I am still awaiting news from Ed Lincoln on whether he will join me for a debate. In the meantime my offer has not gone unnoticed elsewhere.
I created quite a splash with my offer last month to pay $10,000 to charity if the two leading proponents of the “lost decades” story of Japan will meet me for a debate. Among other things, I was interviewed by Thom Hartmann for his Big Picture show. You can view the interview here.
The American Conservative has also picked up the story and its commentary can be read here.
As I reported earlier, Robby Feldman has turned my offer citing pressure of work. The good news is that Ed Lincoln is still considering his options.
For thirteen years now I have been trying to organize a public debate on what really happened to the Japanese economy. The effort continues. The facts below have convinced at least one top American economic thinker that a debate is overdue.
Last week I announced I will pay $10,000 to charity if either Robby Feldman or Ed Lincoln will meet me for a debate on the Japanese economy. I contend that Japanese officials have been understating Japan’s economic performance for trade diplomacy purposes. Robby and Ed have been the two most influential American promoters of the conventional wisdom of a failing Japan.
Robby has been in touch today to decline. He is too busy.
Now it is all down to Ed, who was the Clinton administration’s chief expert on the Japanese economy. I emailed him a week ago and again yesterday but have not yet heard back.
Let’s sort out once and for all what has really happened to the Japanese economy in the last two decades.
Some months ago I offered to make a $5,000 donation to charity if any of ten influential Western commentators joined me for a public debate on Japan’s “two lost decades.” These commentators have all been leading proponents of the conventional view of Japan as a dysfunctional has-been.
I take a different view – that, while of course there have been some problems (not least the stock market and real estate crashes of 1990-94, which I, almost alone among Tokyo-based observers, predicted), the overall economy has done well. I point to a mountain of contrary evidence which has somehow escaped the notice of the ten commentators. On my analysis, which I have documented in three books, the lost-decades story is a media myth. It has been conjured up by Japan’s bureaucratic elite to win sympathy abroad and thus to forestall Washington’s efforts to open Japanese markets.
Posted in American decline, Japan, Manufacturing, Press, Trade
Tagged $10, 000 donation, bamboozled, boeing, cars, edward lincoln, iris chang, ivan p. hall, nanking, renault, robbie feldman, robert alan feldman, trade barriers
It took an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster to reveal how little the West understands the land of the rising sun. (This article first appeared in the June 2011 edition of the American Conservative.)
TOKYO. The art of reading between the lines is useful anywhere but particularly in Japan, where so little of what matters is ever entrusted to words. Having lived in the country since 1985, I claim to know. So I reflexively looked for a hidden meaning when, in an unprecedented move, television networks broke away from scheduled programs to broadcast a special message from Emperor Akihito on March 16.
Posted in Japan, Manufacturing, Press
Tagged amakudari, chalmers johnson, chokepoints, david warren, emperor akihito, japanese earthquake, john beddington, kuro, william holstein