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Extreme Japan: How the country will both soar and sink
- Kenneth Cukier
Is Japan poised for a resurgence, or is the country entering a long decline? On one hand, industry is hollowing out, public finances are a mess, politics is in disarray and the unfavorable demographics are irreversible. Japan’s economy flourished in the 20th century but many forces, notably China, challenge it in the 21st. On the other hand, Japan has one of the strongest engineering cultures and work ethics in the world, producing things that no one else can. It can afford to have such clownish politics and sovereign debt because it has such a solid societal structure and private wealth. And 3/11 has subtly unleashed creative forces that are preparing to blossom. Kenneth Cukier argues that between these extremes a third way is likely: the country will bifurcate into pockets of outperformance amid a general morass of decrepitude. A handful of companies, sectors and locations will be extraordinarily successful globally, in an environment of national deterioration. After nearly five years as a foreign correspondent, Kenn returns to London in March. He will use the talk as a chance to reflect on the themes, to spur a broader conversation on Japan’s future that sadly will take place without him.