SINGAPORE (July 30): Recently, I reread Michael Crichton’s book Rising Sun, written at the height of the US-Japan trade wars in the early 1990s. The themes are eerily similar to the current US narrative about China and the reasons used to justify the unilateral imposition of tariffs on China.
At the time the book was written, Japan was on track to become the world’s second-largest economy. It relied heavily on exports to the US — around 35%. The US charged that the Japanese yen was manipulated and undervalued, which gave Japan exports an unfair advantage.
Central to the US-Japan trade war was the charge that Japanese steel production was stealing US jobs and that state-sponsored Japanese corporations — now we call them “state-owned enterprises” — had an unfair advantage in the market.