JAPAN: The Scramble for Supplies

The fabulous growth rate of the Japanese economy—projected at 10% for this year—has long obscured its fragile foundation. Japan is almost totally dependent on overseas sources for raw materials. A 20-day supply of such items is all that Japanese industry is apt to have at any given time, and it is becoming increasingly tough to maintain the necessary flow of imports.

Acutely aware of their vulnerability, Japanese companies are sending teams of geologists and businessmen all over the world to scout for new sources and bid aggressively for existing supplies. The first of two new high-level missions, headed by Wataru...

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