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Rediscovering AmericaJapanese Perspectives on the American Century$
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Peter Duus

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268432

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268432.001.0001

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America in Decline

America in Decline

(p.276) Chapter 7 America in Decline
Rediscovering America

Peter Duus

Kenji Hasegawa

University of California Press

This chapter describes America's economic decline, noting that during the 1970s, American complaints about Japanese trade practices gave the impression that America was in economic decline. It further notes that this impression was reinforced by Japan's growing sense of familiarity with things American, which supplanted an earlier sense of akogare (yearning for them). The chapter observes that the rapid diffusion of home appliances, accelerating suburbanization, and the spread of a new middle-class lifestyle in Japan also narrowed the material gap between the two countries. It reports that although young Japanese devoured McDonald's hamburgers eagerly, Japanese consumers did not buy nearly enough American goods to balance surging Japanese trade surpluses, resulting in a series of acrimonious trade disputes which grew in intensity and rancor during the 1980s. The chapter notes Prime Minister Nakasone's observations that high interest rates in America and a strong dollar gobbled up foreign trade and foreign capital like a “black hole absorbing stars.”

Keywords:   economic decline, Japanese trade practices, akogare, Japanese trade surpluses, Prime Minister Nakasone, foreign trade, foreign capital

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