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Trump can learn from Japan’s 1986 problem

13 10 0

On a recent overseas flight, I found myself watching “Gung Ho,” Ron Howard’s 1986 comedy about a Japanese car company taking over a U.S. plant. It came out at the height of a Japan-is-eating-our-lunch hysteria not unlike American fears today about losing jobs to China and having to learn Mandarin.

What’s striking, though, is how Donald Trump is actively working on a sequel, 31 years later, casting Japan, China and Germany in starring roles. As the U.S. president looks to hasten domestic growth, he’s not looking under the hood of an economy being outrun by nimbler upstarts. He’s not investing more in education and training, ensuring the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs flock to America or upgrading infrastructure hardware as he promised. Rather, Trump is blaming major trading partners for stagnant U.S. wages and deepening inequality.

But there’s something bigger going on here. What Trump’s obsession with a dollar he deems too strong, his embrace of protectionism and the reluctance of his administration to look in the mirror suggest is that The Donald thinks it’s still 1986. Trump could spare us all an unhappy ending by considering Japan’s own journey these last 31 years.

Remember Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to have all that deflation stuff sorted by........

© The Japan Times