FOREIGN TRADE: Pearls for Everyone

In a modest, unpainted four-room house atop a narrow headland overlooking Japan's Ago Bay, a wizened little man in a brown kimono and a black derby hat shuffled about in a pearly haze. He was Kokichi Mikimoto, who has annoyed more oysters for more profit than any other man. Last week the longtime king of Japan's culture-pearl industry declared the largest personal income in Japan in the first year of American occupation. He had netted three million yen ($200,000) selling pearls to the conquerors.

To Mikimoto this was a significant milestone in his...

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