Courtesy Reuters

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

The booming Japanese economy from the 1960s through the mid-1980s was one of the most thoroughly studied and admired phenomena of modern times. From steel to automobiles, consumer electronics to watches, Japanese companies easily overran the fortifications of their American and European competitors. Western scholars praised Tokyo's careful economic planning and the focus of Japan's keiretsu -- massive, interlocked networks of companies such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Matsushita, and Sumitomo -- on building long-term competitive advantages. Other analysts attributed Japan's economic momentum to its workers' selfless dedication to improving productivity and to the extraordinarily high savings rates

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