The strength of Japanese manufacturing

For  two decades the New York Times has reported almost nothing but gloom about Japan’s manufacturing industries. I challenged a recent report in a letter to the editor.

Your report ( “Japan Confronts Its New Normal,” May 12 in the international edition) presents Japan’s manufacturing sector as “battered by cheaper rivals” and suggests that “fears long held …. of a ‘hollowing out’ of Japanese industry” have been intensified. Talk of this sort has been a constant media theme for more than two decades, yet to say the least there is little evidence of any industrial hollowing out in Japan’s long-term trade trend. Japan’s current account surplus totalled  $194 billion in 2010 — up more than five-fold on $36 billion for 1990. By comparison and by a remarkable coincidence, the  United States also multiplied its current account balance more than five-fold in the period — its current account deficit, that is! The recent Japanese disasters have taken a truly terrible toll on life and limb but Japan’s manufacturing exporters will soon be back stronger than ever.

Eamonn Fingleton, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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