In This Review

Troubled Times: U.S.-Japan Trade Relations in the 1990s
Troubled Times: U.S.-Japan Trade Relations in the 1990s
By Edward J. Lincoln
Brookings Institution Press, 1999, 321 pp.

This book assesses the extent of American access to Japanese markets, focusing on the market-opening negotiations of the past decade. The approach is judicious but also reflects the frustrations of the author, a sometime negotiator. Lincoln concludes that Japan's market is more open to imports of manufactured goods (and a few services) than it once was, but warns that government-business collusion still inhibits the sale of foreign goods in Japan. The practice of amakudari, whereby senior government officials retire early and move on to work in major businesses often regulated by state ministries, is singled out. Lincoln sees no alternative to continuing trade negotiations, case by case, item by item, to pry Japan open. He also urges active use of the WTO dispute-settlement mechanism, recognizing the need to threaten fair but retaliatory action for important cases of Japanese recalcitrance. This study would have benefited from more explicit discussion of problems encountered by Japan's other trading partners -- such as Europe and South Korea -- and the extent of their success in penetrating the Japanese market.