Japan, of course, experienced the bursting of its asset bubble in 1992 and its economic growth slowed substantially. Eventually, the U.S. was able to penetrate some of the Japanese financial markets and of course to proliferate operations like Star Bucks, McDonald’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. But U.S. exports to Japan never gained much and the U.S. continued to have large trade deficits with Japan. In the U.S., the machine tool, consumer electronics, textile, forging, semiconductor equipment, and other industries were essentially completely wiped out and have never recovered. The semiconductor manufacturing industry only partly recovered and except for Intel, those who recovered did so by moving operations to Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea.
So, while many economists have claimed that the U.S. won the trade wars with Japan, I think the net result was a loss of U.S. jobs, wages, and invested capital.
The fight with Japan was a prelude to what we are now facing with China. Japan was a preliminary bout. The main event is now with China. I wish that more of our people had learned a lesson from the experience with Japan. But because it has been widely presented as an American victory, not many in the U.S. have learned the appropriate lesson or are equipped now to deal with China.