Preface  pp. ix-xi

Preface

By Ryuzo Sato and Julianne Nelson

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In the world of modern economics and especially in the United States today, little credence is given to the concept of “economic planning.” In Japan, however, not only is there a government bureau called the Economic Planning Agency, but careful planning has also been considered a virtue since time immemorial. This attitude is reflected in the Japanese language itself. The adjective mukeikaku (mu = lack, keikaku = plan), for example, does not simply mean that plans are absent; rather, it suggests that an action is rash, reckless, and ill-advised. A tendency to believe in the propriety of guiding and being guided in the general planning process has traditionally existed in Japan. Minor cultural differences of this kind may perhaps have some bearing on the sometimes critical reaction of many Americans to the “administrative guidance” provided by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

These opening remarks are not intended to lead into a discussion of the role of economic planning, but are by way of a confession. Although the choice of the two keynote speakers at our international symposium back in September 1986 and the speeches they gave on U.S.–Japan economic cooperation and the balance of trade may now appear to be the result of careful planning, at the time Dean West and I had no such master plan in mind.