chapter  5
Working With Japan’s Free Market Structure
WithGene Gregory
Pages 8

From since about 1976, the din of complaints from the United States and Europe about Japanese trading practices has grown steadily, and parallels the mounting Japanese balance of payments surpluses, the decline of the dollar and periodic upswings in unemployment that characterise the same period. Japanese trade and industrial policies put much less emphasis on export promotions and import restrictions, and devote much more attention to encouragement of imports along with adjustment assistance for Japanese industries no longer able to compete in markets at home or abroad. Taking a somewhat different route, Nihon Philips and Melitta both introduced coffee-makers into the Japanese market using coffee bean wholesalers and retailers rather than appliance channels that are largely controlled by Japanese makers. Far from being a rigid structure which leaves the foreign firm no room for manoeuvre or innovation, as some critics claim, the Japanese distribution system is essentially dynamic, in a constant state of flux.