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Letter from Japan

Joanna Pitman decodes the hysterical headlines about the collapse of the Japanese economy

By Joanna Pitman   May 1998

On 2nd april at a press conference in Tokyo, Norio Ohga, chairman of Sony, stood up before an assembly of foreign journalists and declared in formidably polite English that the Japanese economy was on the verge of collapse. Japan’s downward spiral would cause a worldwide recession, he said, if Japanese policy-makers did not act quickly. He paused to add a wintry smile before going on to compare Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to Herbert Hoover, the US president in office at the onset of the Great Depression.

A thoughtful three second silence followed this chillingly eloquent statement, whereupon the foreign media…

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