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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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49. THE UPSTARTS

JAPAN DID NOT WEAR its new success gracefully. By the mid-eighties, its staggering victory in automobiles assured, it was the most insular of international giants. Trade with Japan was so one-sided as to smack of reverse colonialism: The Western nations shipped raw materials to the Japanese, who turned them into finished goods that they sold back to the West. What came back to the West was an uncomfortable sense of Japan’s financial strength. The Japanese became the greatest customers for U.S. Treasury bills. Some of Japan’s oldest friends were troubled that the power conferred by its success was not accompanied by the willingness to accept the diplomatic and political responsibilities that normally went with it. We Japanese, ...

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