After reading the column “Japan global star-performer,” I found it interesting to read some of the areas where Japan could succeed in the future, such as investment in research and development, and also other corporate improvements in recent years which I was not aware of. While I am relieved to hear about the positive factors, I have to say I am less convinced that Japan could thrive in the future, with its current and future problems.

Japan’s population decline should be taken much more seriously, especially because the Japanese government does not seem to have a strong backup plan to secure a larger labor force in coming years. We are continuously disappointed with the instability of the political leadership and its obscure future plans and policies. Japan’s political leadership has not impressed me since Koizumi’s resignation. I feel that we are living off the success of Koizumi’s drastic economic reformation and now that may be coming to an end.

We also do not know when this global economic crisis will end. It is doubtful to think that Japan will be an exception to the suffering caused by long term effects of the credit crunch. It also seems that raw material prices will continue to rise with the increasing demand from emerging countries—concerning as we rely so heavily on imports. It seems to be that Japan has more troubling factors than positive ones. As BRICs countries rise, Japan needs fresh policies to create a strong country in order to keep pace with the emerging economies.

Masahiko Takeda, Tokyo

Given the Japanese obsession with all things foreign (North American/European that is), it has often surprised me that the wine industry has never managed to gain any significant traction in a country where foreign luxury brands have traditionally enjoyed ridiculous high demand.

In a society where image is everything, brands such as Louis Vuitton, Mercedes Benz and Rolex enjoy sales that dwarf the GDPs of many a small country, yet when it comes to alcohol, the Japanese seem happy to bombard their bodies with cheap white potato spirits and “low-malt beer like cocktails.” It has often occurred to me that if one of the Smap buddies decide that drinking wine is cool, the industry would explode overnight. It is this hope that has had many a foreigner dreaming of being the first in the door when that day finally comes. Unfortunately, for many foreigners, dreaming is all they do as they wait for a miracle opportunity to appear and make them their fortunate with little or no effort whatsoever. In such an environment it is wonderful to see entrepreneurs such at Tim Williams take the bull by the horns and make something out of nothing.

John Williams, Ageo