THE FAILED MIRACLE

RARELY HAS A COUNTRY FALLEN SO FAR SO FAST AS JAPAN HAS IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS. WHAT WENT WRONG?

Five years ago, Japan could look back on three decades of extraordinary accomplishment. Its economy had grown an average of 6.5% a year. By the 1980s, it had come to dominate the market for consumer electronics and semiconductors, and claimed the best automakers in the world. In the U.S., Japanese companies seemed to be buying everything in sight, from Rockefeller Center to Universal Studios. Over and over again, the question was asked in other countries, particularly the U.S.--What is Japan's secret?

For Japan did seem to have a secret, somehow managing to exempt itself from the economic laws that governed everyone...

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