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NT-3274 @ 01:09:47
The Eleventh Hour - Show #274 Title: Asianization Guests: Bill Powell, Newsweek Tokyo; John Schwartz, Newsweek; Peter Peterson, Chairman Blackstone Group; Manohla Dargis, Film Critic; Jude Narita, Actress and Playwright; Sheila Johnson, Author "The Japanese Through American Eyes"; Original Broadcast Date: 12-18-89
INTERVIEW CONTINUES: John Schwartz 9:48 those things tug at the American heartstrings, whereas that there might be more present danger in this sort of talk about semiconductors, especially when you consider how popular Mr. Ishihara is in Japan. Peter Peterson 9:57 But let me ask Great Britain was the leading creditor for period. They went through a phase where First they invested in financial instruments. And then they invested abroad, the United States. And second, after the Second World War, became the leading creditor invested abroad, the Europeans were worried about our taking over. What in God's earth did we think the Japanese were going to do when they became the leading creditor? What were they going to do with their money? stuffing in mattresses are what you say. But we railed about being there being the world's largest creditor and our being the largest debtor, and with the American attention span being very limited, somehow that didn't have any meaning. But anybody that thought very long, said, you know, one of the things that happens when you get in debt is other people get your money, and they can do with it, essentially, what others have done with it. So economically, we shouldn't be surprised. Robert Lipsyte 10:50 Well, let's back logically to psychologically, do you think that there's any feeling now that the the Cold War seems to be thawing, and we as a nation, we've always needed to hate somebody? And now that we're probably not going to be hitting the Russians so much anymore? Do we now have to hate the Japanese. And since you're only 32, I'm not going to say hate the Japanese, again. John Schwartz 11:11 The there certainly a case to be made, that what's going on in the media is a is an Arab isation of the Japanese that, that in 1973, the oil embargo whipped up tremendous hatred against all our all our peoples Persians, anyone from the Middle East, and and that was only made worse by the hostage crisis. And that in the Arab countries were portrayed as money rich coming in to steal our resources, and being able to cut us off just by turning off the oil spigot, a lot of the same type of coverage happened. And I would hope that we're reading Oh, I know, I'm going back and reading my 1973 News weeks, and my 1973 New York Times and trying to make sure I don't fall into a lot of the same problems when I write these stories, because there's a danger to be written about. And then the challenge is to write about the danger, express the fears, but don't fall into the Zena phobic swamp that goes with all that. Robert Lipsyte 12:06 What about those fears? Do we have anything to fear? Peter Peterson 12:10 Well, I met last night with a bunch of CEOs at a dinner. And it was interesting to go around the table. I heard something approaching real fear. One executive said they're now spending twice as much on research and development. The Japanese economy is putting more money in plant and equipment, they got two thirds of the robots with 100 million people basically, the 5% of our kids that at the top and math and science are no better than the average in Japanese schools, four to five times as many other kids have taken calculus and computer related courses. So I think there is real concern about Japan assuming being number one and our living standards going down our ability to compete going down. Robert Lipsyte 13:01 Are those real, real fears? Peter Peterson 13:02 Well, they needn't be realized if we get our act together. But one of the problems is we were politically paralyzed, as well as being frightened. And one of the things we mentioned to some Washington people last night, is where are the people in Washington, whether it's the president or the senators of the Congressman, that are saying, Hey, there are real concerns here for our kids and where we're headed, and 10 or 15 years, I would let's make these choices here are what the issues are. But we've kind of been in this happy times mood, where it's bad politics for anybody's suggest that America needs to be to make choices. And I've argued that the biggest competitive weapon the Japanese have and the Germans is they have a long term economic consensus that is focused on the future. And in the 73 oil problem that hit the Japanese far more than it did not. They girded up their loins, increase productivity, improve quality, and they came out, okay. The Germans are endlessly making decisions about their future. But we rhetorically talk about investing in our future. But every time we have to make a choice between giving up something now so we can have more later, our political system seems to be saying, I want it now. So there's very little leadership it seems to make coming out of our political system. And I don't know how that's to blame the voters or the leaders or both. But I really wish that our leadership could somehow define the problem because I think many more Americans than we believe. Then they believe our I've got a feeling in their bones, they look at the streets, they look at their living rooms, they look all around. They hear the products are better, they hear the products are more advanced. I think they're ready for such a message, but our political system has not delivered it in my view. Robert Lipsyte 14:53 Peter Peterson, john Schwarz, thanks so very much for being with us.
1980s NEWS