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Land of the Setting Sun?
Re "A Clouded Outlook" [Aug. 2]: Japan's economy has been in disarray because the old bureaucracy still restricts people's activities. Governments have changed intermittently, and all the economic policies have been ineffective. We need long-term measures to fix the economy sustainably. Japan already has high levels of competency. If we just believe in ourselves, we can make a united effort.
Yasuhito Sakamoto,
Yamato, Japan

Michael Schuman's article rightly points out many of Japan's problems. Though I'm proud of my country's social unity, how that unity is kept is a major cause of the problems facing Japan now. The desire to be quiet stifles debates that are needed to bring about feasible changes. We need a big change in how students study in schools, moving from the situation in which they just listen to teachers to one in which they interact, telling each other their opinions. Good education is the basis for both politics and the economy functioning well.
Daiki Kuroda,
Osaka, Japan

France's Farming Future
Having read your excellent article "How to Save Rural France," there is one remark that I disagree with [Aug. 2]. I fully expect bio-agriculture to grow to more than 3% of the total French agricultural sector. Organic-food sales in France have been growing 20% or more year on year for the past five years, and the Chinese middle class has discovered organic food. This will result in more domestic demand in China, which will cause Chinese exports of organic food to dry up. In turn, Europe will need to find somewhere to grow organic food, and France will surely be a popular choice. Even expectations of a 10% to 15% share for organic agriculture on arable land could turn out to be pessimistic.
Maarten Molenaar,
Veenendaal, The Netherlands

The reason only 20% of French farms have diversified their activities is quite simple: the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, which comes from the largesse of German and British taxpayers. If the French people are so attached to their rural and agricultural heritage, then let them pay for it.
Julian Dow,
Symington, Scotland

Beyond the Beltway
If Joe Klein believes things are really not so dire in the Democratic camp, he must be spending all his time in New York City or inside the Beltway, places where folks tend to political delusions ["Apocalypse Not," Aug. 2]. Klein supports another stimulus package and cites a Republican smear campaign? Really? He is not objective.
Colonel Colin McArthur, U.S. Army (ret.),
St. Helena Island, S.C., U.S.

Why can't people cut the President some slack? Do they remember what he was handed? Did they expect the economy to rise out of the ashes in the first year? Obama is obviously committed to health care, the economy and other concerns.
Randy Pettit,
Elyria, Ohio, U.S.

That's So Very Jerry
Jerry Brown has said it himself, in so many words: Been there, done that ["The Once and Future Governor?" Aug. 2]. It's time we move on from recycled career politicians. How refreshing it would be to elect someone new who knows how to create wealth. Plus, California has yet to have a woman governor.
Mary Ann Vigilanti,
Oakland, Calif., U.S.