Japanese Bid to Rule the World.

As this video shows, some people think just about everyone wants to rule the world.

Then enter political commentator Gore Vidal, exactly 30 years ago, as fate would have it. He had a very unique view of the world. And his theories were rife with all kinds of supposed conspiracies.

Anyways, apparently he was talking with some Russians around the time of the fall of the old Soviet Union. And he told them, the Japanese at the time said, in the 21st century, Europe will be their boutique, the United States will be their bread basket. The Russians asked him, what will they be. Gore Vidal joked perhaps their ski instructors.

Anyways, it was a long time ago. So I may not be able to produce any cites. (Feel free to include your own, if you have any:).) But as you can see, I do recall quite a bit about the gist of the conversation anyways. The Japanese were bent on financially conquering the world at the time.

My question is, it’s 30 years later. And it is indeed the 21st century. How far have the Japanese come with their plan? I mean you just don’t hear anything about them in the news. Is there anything new to report?

Thank you in advance for all your kindly and civil replies:).


Overtaken by China. A sluggish economy, an ageing population and strong resistance to immigration don’t help.

Yup. And like many countries faced with these exact problems, they sadly seem to have turned to hardcore nationalism to “solve” them. Because clearly when you can’t seem to keep up with the tides of change the bestest solution is to try and stop or even revert the tides, as that is a thing that has succeeded many many times throughout History.

That faint pounding sound you hear is King Cnut aggressively palmfacing in his grave.

The Japanese didn’t plan to take over the world. This is just how the US responded to Japan successfully embracing capitalism. Before the panic about the Japanese taking over, the US had a similar panic about Arab nations taking over. This fear was based on Arab nations investing their petro-dollars into a diverse portfolio that included American companies and assets.

If you consider the quote, what does America being Japan’s food supplier, and Europe being Japan’s luxury goods supplier mean? It means Japan buys US and European exports. So? Don’t we want other countries buying our exports?

These fears are most built around racism. After the financial crisis I heard a report on the BBC about Tata Motors (the Indian car company) buying Jaguar. The British commentator went on and on about how it meant something that a former colony was buying a signature British brand. It was the mark of a new era. The BBC commentator failed to mention that Tata bought Jaguar from Ford. An American (former colony) car company. What could possibly be the difference between Tata owning Jaguar and Ford owning Jaguar if not race?

Well, shit. The only reason I opened this thread was to drop that link into it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, Japan’s got the trap of an aging population and major opposition to immigrants.

The USA had managed to avoid that trap until recently by taking in lots of immigrants. Thank you, Grand Old White Nationalist Party, for screwing that up. And we don’t even have the excuse of historical insularity that Japan does; we’ve always been a nation of immigrants.

The National Security State, The Nation, June 4th, 1988. (Midway down this page.) The relevant paragraph is:

Well, this happened.

Sigh. Edited to fix a broken quote tag and it ended up breaking both of my links. The essay page is here and the “this” that happened is here.

Japan is a rich and safe country, they’ve done okay.

Of course they never planned on taking over the world, what racist claptrap. They got really good at business and industry, and they’re not white, so that panicked the dumber horses.

Japan has an aging population, and has had very bad monetary policy for a long time.
When Japan had a recession in the late 80s they tried to use government to spend their way out of it. They currently have the largest government debt to GDP ratio in the world. High debt and an aging population made the Bank of Japan excessively tight with monetary policy. This has led to a chronic under supply of money which has kept Japan from growing as much as it should. Economically Japan has been treading water for almost 30 years. Recently there have been bright spots such as Abenomics and more women coming into the workplace.

The Japanese stood absolutely no chance of ruling even Asia, let alone the world. Only a tiny fraction of the world population, little natural resources (no oil, etc.), economy propped up to a good extent by a real estate fake bubble.

Gore Vidal was not alone in worrying about Japanese takeover. See, for instance, Paul Kennedy’s book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. The cover art, for my father’s edition at least, shows a Brit in a bowler hat descending the steps from a stage, an American walking across the stage and approaching the edge, and a Japanese man crawling up to the stage on the other side.

Also of interest: the short story A Thing of Beauty by science fiction author Norman Spinrad, in which Japanese zillionaires crisscross a future USA, buying up landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch and having them shipped to Japan.

Hmm. Clancy put virtually the same words into the mouth of his Japanese villain in “Debt of Honor.” Now I know where he got them from…

In the late '80s all the managers at my Bell Labs Center watched a video from ABC about how Japan was beating our ass in tech. Part of this is that they got the quality bug before we did - and not just in cars. My field, which was related to quality, exploded after the Japanese told HP that they didn’t know how to make quality parts.
But we learned. And I felt a lot better when I got a netlist for an IC from a large Japanese company, and discovered that it was crap.
The Japanese also made a lot of bad bets, like the Fifth Generation Project.

Back in the 80s and 90s Japan having economic dominance was kind of a standard sf trope.

We can only hope the Chinese screw up as badly as the Japanese did.

I read an article a long while ago that said the Japanese mistake of this decade was to make their semiconductors too high a quality. That made them too pricey for the export market which didn’t need that high of a quality.

I honestly don’t know why we we hope that. The world economy can and should benefit everyone.

Or at best, a worldview of a zero-sum universe where anyone’s rise has got to be at the expense of someone else’s fall and where of course you ***must ***be looking to become absolute hegemon so you can make everyoine else dance to your tune and OMG, if *they *become it, they’ll extract payback

Considering that Rolls and Bentley were bought by German conglomerates, getting Jag bought by the Indians is virtually keeping it in the family.

The Soviet economy screwing up contributed to world peace and freedom. If the Chinese Communist government is discredited I think there will be long term benefits.
From the Times today it appears that local governments in China have massive amounts of debt from development projects which have resulted in ghost cities. The government is far from transparent about the real situation. Their economy - and the world economy - will benefit from getting information about this and from the inevitable correction.

I worked in semiconductor quality, and I’ve never heard that. In fact higher quality saves money. If you improve your process to increase yield (defined as the percentage of chips on a wafer that are good) your cost per chip goes down and the cost of repairs later goes down. That goes for small cheap chips as well as big expensive chips.
I’d love to see the article.

Other than the real estate bubble (and it had other bubbles!) these things were true of Great Britain when it had a worldwide empire.

We were lucky it worked out that way for a time. It didn’t have to.