From the Editors

Back to Contents of Issue: October 2003

Tough issues and tough revelations after a long hot summer of barbecues, beaches and booze

by The Editors

At the end of October, the Tokyo Motor Show gets underway in Makuhari. Even we have been drawn to the excitement of the event, but we decided to look at the whole of the Japanese auto industry. While the flashbulbs of the world's press will be bursting over the sleekest new models from Toyota, Mazda, Honda and their rivals, we will be examining more closely what it all means for the broader Japanese economy -- and especially for the massive car-manufacturing industry that once almost singlehandedly created Japan's "economic miracle." In this issue, we get the word straight from Nissan-Renault's celebrity CEO Carlos Ghosn, whose abiding optimism and candor are inspiring.

One of the angles we cover is China and the manifold forms it will take in shaping the future of Japanese culture. The threat of China has been overplayed: Many observers of Japan have too readily accepted the theory that China, with vast reserves of cheap labor, will pose an insurmountable threat to Japan in the long term. We argue that the current trade balance between the two countries gives plenty of reason for Japan to be as optimistic as Mr. Ghosn.

As a counterpoint, we then turn the spotlight on the labor scene in Japan: In our regular Kansai column we examine the effects of the aging population. And in a separate feature we pull back the veil on the thorny issue of immigration in Japan.

Tough issues and tough revelations, but after a long hot summer of barbecues, beaches and booze, we guessed you'd be in the mood for some serious Japan-watching.

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