From Standstill to Flank Speed

Hamstrung by a high yen 18 months ago, Japan is soaring again

At Elm Industry, a factory situated in a grim industrial district of Tokyo, a startling transformation has taken place. The rhythmic clanging of the drill presses is gone, replaced by pulsing songs like the Supremes' Stop! in the Name of Love. Where women in green coveralls once toiled on an assembly line, homemakers in pink and black leotards now bend and stretch in an exercise class. Like thousands of other Japanese companies, Elm Industry, a manufacturer of office supplies, is showing a remarkable ability to adapt to the country's biggest challenge in years: endaka, the strong yen. When endaka began eroding...

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