JAPAN: Freeloaders' Paradise

With characteristic reverence for custom and ritual, the Japanese have perfected such arts as flower arranging, tea serving, paper folding—and now expense-account living. In recent years, The Land of the Rising Sun has become the land of the rising expense account, to an extent that might excite blind envy among U.S. businessmen, long noted for their expertise in that area.

Japanese businessmen spent some $5 billion in mostly tax-exempt yen entertaining themselves and their clients last year—more than twice what the Japanese government spends on defense and at least 20% more than...

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