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Editor's letter.

Editor's Letter

Like many people in the West, I have had my share of bad experiences with Japan. But, in retrospective, I realized that the fault rested with me, not my Japanese counterpart.

I was too eager to deal with the Japanese perceived image, not the real one. For us in international business, it is important to know and understand Japan. This undertanding should be positive, but honest. Positive, so that contacts will not be prejudiced, but honest, to be realistic.

During the many interviews I conducted in the U.S. and Europe to prepare for this issue, it became apparent that film-TV executives are willing to spend more time with a Japanese than with an American or a European executive.

We let the Japanese do anything they please, and this is dangerous. We tend to justify the Japanese attitude, until exasperation brings us to "bashing," and this is unfair.

Let's be realistic about the Japanese executives: They do not do favors, they do business.

If you have something they want, they'll buy it without wasting your time. If you want their goods, they'll sell it on their terms.

"Fair" competition is only exhorted by the weaker side. One has to deal from strength to reach "fair" results. Japan has no incentive or need to change or to be "fair," and merely asking them to (or blaming everything on Japan) will not accomplish anything, except to create bad feelings. We cannot blame our weaknesses on Japan's strength. On the other hand, the Japanese tend to view Americans as simplistic and egocentric; as a consequence, they're encouraged to push the limits. Unfortunately, the Japanese, as traditional as they seem, look to the future, (i.e. their 100-year plan) and not at the past: Historical lessons -- especially if embarrassing--are not fully appreciated.

Japan is taking advantage of the fact that American society is becoming more fragmented, divisive and shore-sighted. Japan should understand that this is only due to a temporary lack of political and business leadership. For now, the Europeans seem more alert and prepared to face Japanese competition on realistic terms.

Dom Serafini
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Americans' relations with Japan
Author:Serafini, Dom
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:editorial
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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