April 3, 2008

What Makes a Nation: The Case of Japan

Let us be honest: The Japanese have left us behind. Americans are bad losers and prefer not to admit it, but in nearly every way, Japan puts us to shame. Whether it is crime rates, literacy, GNP growth, investment rates, life expectancy, or even the yearly number of patents per capita, Japan is well ahead of us and of nearly everyone else.

Unlike the United States, which is worried about the future, always slipping behind and cutting back, Japan is optimistic. Only 45 years after B-29s nearly destroyed it, Japan is bursting with energy—investing, building, expanding, ready for the future. Before long, a few rocky islands in the Pacific could be the dominant economic and cultural force in the world. How have the Japanese done it?

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