From The Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: April 2002

AS YOU READ THIS, Japan is supposed to be in the middle of an economic meltdown. The media, economists and analysts have predicted different scenarios after the end-of-March book closings, but they're all bleak. From April 1, the government will no longer guarantee bank deposits above ´10 million, and the banks will have closed their books on March 31, revealing just how weak they really are. Everywhere you look Ñ on TV, in magazines, in newspapers -- Japan is being written off as a liability to the global economy, an eyesore on the world stage.

Here is where you'd expect me to say, "It's not as bad as it seems; just look at all the innovation out there," or something like that. Sorry to disappoint. It is bad. But writing off Japan because of the economic decay of some of its largest entities is akin to writing off Ichiro, the Seattle Mariners and the rest of Major League Baseball because of the shenanigans of commissioner Bud Selig and his cronies.

Yes, big banks and many large companies have been mismanaged, sometimes criminally so, and yes, the government is married to pork-barrel politics, but that doesn't diminish the attractive parts of Japan that are getting glossed over these days. Amid the gloom, Japan's wireless world rocks -- just check out our feature on page 22 on how wireless LAN hot spots are set to take off, or see the interview with wireless guru Richard Siber on page 6. Also, Japan's economy has no shortage of dynamic small companies, and as writer Henry Scott-Stokes argues in our cover story beginning on page 18, they are key to any economic recovery in this country's future. No cheerleading from this corner, but 10 years of economic decay hasn't sapped my interest in this complex, frustrating and unusual country.

-- Bruce Rutledge

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