The Japanese distribution system operates as a powerful non-tariff trade barrier. When trying to ascertain the reasons for Japan’s relatively low level of manufactured goods imports from the USA and western Europe, one repeatedly hears mention of the Japanese distribution system, which is said to be not transparent to foreigners, highly complex, comparatively unproductive and therefore expensive. About half of the respondent companies gave as their opinion that the Japanese distribution channels were virtually closed to foreign products. The reason—as even Ministry of International Trade & Industry stated at the time—lay in the complexity of the Japanese distribution system and in high trading margins. As in all industrial countries in the western world, there have been considerable structural changes in Japanese wholesaling and retailing since the 1950s, marketing channels operated successfully for centuries have been altered, new—rational—distribution channels and methods have come into being. Yet there are some development trends which are strengthening the wholesalers’ position in the distribution process.