Asia: Again the Rising Sun

"To us he is like a father," say his workers. "I hate him," grimaces a competitor. "He is a statesman," purrs Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan. The object of these vastly divergent judgments: wispy Sazo Idemitsu, 76, the Far East's fastest rising oilman and the prime pipeline through which Soviet Russia pumps its oil into the rapidly expanding Japanese market.

Last year alone, Idemitsu (pronounced Ee-day-meets) imported more than 9,000,000 bbl. of Soviet oil, which Moscow sold to him at roughly 40% below world prices in order to finance purchases of Japanese machinery. Idemitsu cracks the oil at his Tokuyama...

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