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Japan: Major or Minor Country?


Famed Neomarxisme insurgent commenter alin wrote the following in our debate about Dentsu (literally, the world’s largest ad firm) the other day:

but see japan too is basically a minor country and I’m very politically motivated to support that in whatever way i can whether , whether it’s against ‘japan as number one’ sick japanese or americans who need a fictional arch-competitor in order to function.

While I do not agree with alin’s statement, I think he may have just hit at the very crux of the ongoing debate here: Is Japan a major country or a minor country?

If Japan is a major country — like the United States or Germany — we have obvious reason to show concern over unchanging political and economic systems in the face of serious social breakdown, the rise of rightism in the LDP, and the pervasiveness of organized crime, etc. If Japan is a minor country — like Portugal or Albania or Laos — constructive criticism would amount to little more than nit-picky bullying.

My thesis adviser Prof. Merry White once said something like, at the beginning of her academic career, studying Japan was considered to be “anthropology” because Japan was a third-class country, but when the economy bounced back, Japan research became “sociology” — the change from tribe to complex society.

Of course, the question of major/minor is interesting because Japan has straddled the line for the last 150 years. First, Japan was a backwater empire closed off from the world. By the early 20th century, however, “minor” Japan defeated “major” Russia and inspired the non-European world that a new era of fighting imperialism is at hand. Then Japan went so major that they invaded China in imitation of major countries, attacked the U.S., and became the strategic partner of übermajor Nazi Germany. When the war ended, Japan went back to being “minor” for twenty years — finally regaining the underdog sense of rising glory at the ’64 Olympics. Then Japan went from a “miracle economy” to a strong #2 to Japan as Number One to buying major U.S.’s major real estate. Then the Bubble burst, ten years of recession, a declining population… Does Japan want to gun it again to retain their major status or enjoy the gentle slide into minor territory?

From any rational perspective, Japan is absolutely a major country: the #2 economy, a larger population than any of the non-Russian European states, an important producer of electronic goods for the world at large, and a Top Five supplier of pop culture. A symbol of success in Asia, the Japanese model of economic development became successfully adopted in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. But Japan’s retention to what is generally understood as a minor-to-major development state economic model is exactly the issue at hand: When will Japan’s economy start to work with the globalized “major” system? Japan has never had the foreign policy influence of a major country — mostly due to being stuck under the American security umbrella. Questions of constitutional revision reference the word “normal country,” but they are basically asking the same thing: When will Japan’s major status be reflected in the defense structure?

Going minor clearly has its advantages — responsibilities on the international stage tend to go away and everyone leaves you alone (actually worst case scenario, invades you). Nations, however, do not have to be military and economic bullies like the U.S. to be “major.” France holds on to its major country status due to its culture and tradition. Germany expertly combines economic superiority with a leading edge on progressive areas like environmental policy.

So, does Japan reform in order to catch up to the other “major” countries? Does Japan proudly sink into “minor” obscurity? Do you protect Japan’s minority status as a way to protect the streams of diversity contained within? Do we analyze as compared to other “major” countries in order to understand the barriers that prevent Japan from reaching its economic and strategic goals? Is Japan having it both ways by feigning to be a minor underdog while being #2?


W. David MARX (Marxy)
December 8, 2006

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

49 Responses

  1. P P Says:

    One of Japan’s major exports is its women. They are probably today’s only remaining group of women in a “developed nation” that can be discussed as if they are property. In other words, they represent the outsourcing of the feminine for the other developed nations.

  2. Mutantfrog Says:

    “They are probably today’s only remaining group of women in a “developed nation” that can be discussed as if they are property.”

    Does that include all the women that are quite literally being kept as prostitute slaves in most or all developed countries?

    I’m not really sure what the hell you’re talking about at all, but there are WAY more Japanese men marrying women from poorer Asian countries than there are Japanese women marrying foreign men.

  3. Adamu Says:

    Back on topic: I think you’re giving Alin way too much credit by elevating his offhand comment to its own blog post. Most people would agree that Japan is a major country for the reasons you cite, and the Western media’s unanimous freak-out over rising nationalism reflects this recognition.

    One issue I think is important to keep in mind is that other coutnries/regions, especially China, are competing for attention as major countries, and Japan is surely to lose out in a competition for global attention when nothing especially ominous or awe-inspiring is going on there.

    BTW, did you notice that “hinkaku” (dignity) was selected as the co-word of the year by the people who select those sorts of things?

  4. marxy Says:

    ” I think you’re giving Alin way too much credit by elevating his offhand comment to its own blog post.”

    Who’s Aline? Oh, yeah, that guy. I think I saw him last denigrating me on Momus’ site – where even posts about European art can be pre-emptive strikes about how rude and ineffective writing is.

    Re: Hinkaku.

    Interesting that it’s not a controversial choice (or I am missing the controversy?) “Dignity” is only a code word for the math prof’s diatribe – not really a concept you can disassociate from it. And that book is, “kinda retarded.” Even if you agree with parts of it, c’mon… I should write a book about how Anglo-Saxons can’t write iambic pentameter in Indonesia because the seasonal makeup is off.

    “there are WAY more Japanese men marrying women from poorer Asian countries than there are Japanese women marrying foreign men”

    This is really, really true. 4:1 ratio.

    This is

  5. alin Says:

    // Is Japan having it both ways by feigning to be a minor underdog while being #2? //

    i would reverse that: japan is a minor underdog feigning to be No 2 and the whole world seems to believe it.

    the typo (whether x 2) in my statement gives it a funny oratorial tone.

  6. marxy Says:

    “i would reverse that: japan is a minor underdog feigning to be No 2 and the whole world seems to believe it.”

    Interesting perspective. What leads you to that conclusion?

  7. alin Says:

    // pre-emptive strikes //

    sorry, if that’s how you saw that. it’s funny i remember that expression used here during the cold war with momus. (in fact it seems like you’re almost trying to raise me to new momus status, the arch-competitor i keep saying you seem to need in order to function) now i’m not engaged in any war with you here. that comment there was in light humour, if it did have an aim it was to reshuffle some hierarchies and devillianize debiddo who seems to be a kind of absolute ‘wrong’ according to everyone’s list. i was reffering to the performative apsect rather than the essennce and i don’t really think you necessarily come out as the bad guy.

  8. marxy Says:

    “light humour”

    I generally blame the internet for making irony/humor hard to read in comments. Especially in a ESL-mixed climate, and I don’t mean that in a discrimatory way, but hell if I can understand all the sarcasm in 2-ch even if I can understand the sentences, and English is infinitely worse.

  9. alin Says:

    //that conclusion?//

    doesn’t what Prof. Merry White sais already imply that.

    in all those historical instances japan has basically been ‘responding’ – the minor praxis per excellance. yes i am basically talking of praxis rather than measurables. ultimately any attempt at serious analysis of japan as a major (or even of anything major within japan) might deflect back onto the real ‘majors’ as long as those exist.

    think this is sounding fuzzy again.

    i made you a small homage here

  10. marxy Says:

    “yes i am basically talking of praxis rather than measurables. ”

    But what if work so hard as an underdog that you become a leader or perennial powerhouse? This happens all the time. When you keep acting like an underdog, people don’t think you are so cute anymore.

  11. alin Says:

    i think asian neighbors might be a far better position to discuss this issue since the european, american view seems perplexed by default and lacking categories when it comes to discussing japan.

  12. Mutantfrog Says:

    “japan is a minor underdog feigning to be No 2 and the whole world seems to believe it.”
    So Japan is pretending to have the world’s second largest economy? What an amazing con game!

    Let me flip the question on you. If Japan is not #2, then who is?
    A. England
    B. Germany
    C. Russia
    D. China
    E. Europe, collectively
    F. Other _____________ (Please fill in the blank)

    (If anyone wants to argue that any country besides the USA is #1, now is the time.)

  13. joey Says:

    just look at the current incarnation of the Detroit Pistons.

  14. e-dogg Says:

    Good point the pistons where underdogs for a long time then they started to dominate and they became the bad boys again.

  15. marxy Says:

    Conclusion: Japan is the Detroit Pistons.

    “think asian neighbors might be a far better position to discuss this issue since the european, american view seems perplexed by default and lacking categories when it comes to discussing japan.”

    Yeah, I am sure we can expect China and Korea to view Japan in a very open-minded and critical way. Much more than Americans…

  16. Mutantfrog Says:

    Of course China agrees that Japan is #2. Which will make it all the sweeter when China reaches their proper spot at #1.

  17. Yago Says:

    They deride the 2nd economy of the world as a “minor undergod”. And we are the cultural imperialists? Who`s the bigot here?

    What categories are we lacking? Most (if not all) of Japanese scholars actually study they own history and society using Western methods, in Western style institutions.

    Renouncing criticism and just trying to “understand it” and `love it as it is` it`s a common reaction when one lacks the psychological readiness to look for the truth by oneself. So easy to blame “lacking categories” without pointing out which they are.

    Japan`s foreign policy is necessarily minor, because, well, the last time they played major they ended up killing on the tens of millions. Any tiny little asertion of independence of thought is received by their neighbours as we all know. But that doesn`t mean the ruling classes believe themselves to be a minor country. But having an economy depending 100% on exports and having 50.000 foreign troops still around makes it reasonable to stay quiet.

  18. john Says:

    hey if you plan on writing another post about a semifacetious comment check this out:

    it’s about instituting flex time at best buy and more open schedules in general at offices, contrast it to the Japanese way of doing things but only gloss over the potential economic or psychological implications and instead only focus on the philosophical/socionomic effects of the japanese whole and the need for facetime/long work days at work. contrast and compare to their GDP and #2 economy as well as levels of happiness among japanese folks.

  19. marxy Says:

    Interesting article. Seems to be something much easier to implement in a orthodoxical society like the U.S. (results!) over a orthopraxical one like Japan (the “process” of working!). Although Americans have a deep seeded Puritanism that is not entirely comfortable with workers having too much fun when they could be working.

  20. Duffy Says:

    Marxy, this is just a head’s up warning that some asshole’s probably going to tell you that it’s “deep-seated” not “deep-seeded”.

    I got your back, bro!

    For all intensive purposes, one of the French benefits of having a blog is that it helps out with one’s writing.

  21. alin Says:

    //So Japan is pretending to have the world’s second largest economy? What an amazing con game!

    i said i wasn’t talking measurables. I know it’s a cardinal sin and a pointless enterprise to talk culture , psychology etc with an economically fixated bunch but anyway, culturally you could argue japan (like marxy’s france) IS a major – but at the same time it’s incommesuarable (see below) with france(-like or historically speaking china-like culture majors) – thus we don’t have the category.

    japanese design is by default good but why is it so good? the logic hasn’t changed much since the impressionists’ time. local, average , minor, purely functional design is percieved as good by an outside authority (and this judgement is a truly mixed bag made of all sorts of things, exoticism, projection a dash of objectivity etc).

    This feeds back generating both confusion and a need to (over)-perform.

    i could give hundreds of examples from ozu (who was a very popular film-maker in japan in the same way izakaya TV is now but made into grand ‘master’ by western critics – it took the japanese decates to come to terms with that, though film directors were more perceptive and starting feeding the western ‘authorities’ straight, if somehow disconnecting themselves from the local public – best example , of course akira kurosawa) to Shibuya-kei and why not Nintendo and Playstation.

    My point is doesn’t the culture dynamic maybe on some level PRECEED the economic .. can it not serve as a tool/template to analyze the economic ???

  22. Mitsuko Says:

    This is a bit of a pointless discussion if there’s no definition of what makes a country ‘major’ or ‘minor’. That said, it would have to be a strange definition of ‘major’ that didn’t include Japan, considering that it has the second largest economy in the world, that Greater Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area (and most important along with Paris, London and New York), that it is the world’s largest creditor, the sixth largest importer and exporter, that it has the tenth largest population in the world and a higher per capita income than the U.S., etc. etc. If Japan isn’t major, then what is?

  23. Mutantfrog Says:

    “i said i wasn’t talking measurables.”
    Maybe you thought you were saying that, but it doesn’t look to me like you did.

    Your argument still doesn’t make any sense. It’s nice and cute to say something along the lines of “maybe Japan is really just pretending to be a major power” but you haven’t actually suggested any measurable way in which this might be the case.

    I’m not going to even try and respond to anything else you’re saying, because frankly you’re typing it out so sloppily I can’t even tell what you’re trying to say. I recommend you slow down, learn to use the shift key, check your spelling, and read over your comment before you post to make sure your thoughts are at expressed in a way that is at least semi-coherent.

  24. lacadutadegiganti Says:

    It’s all a question of regression to the mean. In the Edo era, Japan was a minor power to the point of utter insignificance. Even in the late 1800s Oscar Wilde was able to facetiously assert that “Japan” was simply an imaginary construct. The 20th century saw the apogee of Japan-as-major-power. The road ahead seems to be one of low economic growth and diminishment, particularly vis-a-vis China and India.

    PS: Would it be possible to add an “IGNORE” button to your comments section. I ask this with Momus and alin in mind. Absent that, could the writer of a post be listed at the top, rather than the bottom? That way I could scroll right down if I saw either’s name. As it is, it’s necessary to read a few words of their sophistic whimsey before realizing they’re the authors of a particular post and then skipping ahead.

  25. der Says:

    Interesting. I was asking myself the same question yesterday, lying in the bathtub and thinking about the previous discussion here. (I know, why does this stuff follow me around?)

    If one were inclined to throw around accusatory terms, would one not be very justified in calling this whole stance of “protect ’em cause they’re nice and cuddly, point out their good differences so that they can grow and become even better”, adressed to a country that is economically so strong, a case of extreme culturocentrism? Objectification, conceptual subjucation, patronism, little boy-ification?

    It sometimes seems that even the truly champions league-grade cruelties of the Japanese army during WW2 are considered as not really that big a deal, ts ts, don’t do that again, naughty child.

    But yeah, I think Marxy has put his finger on an important paradox here: why does Japan not feel like a major nation, despite many indicators saying that it is? (For people who are happy with truthiness, the feeling is primary, and presumably need not be explained.)

    (A side issue is that Momus seems to do something similar also with the EU, he always gets all warm inside talking about it, conveniently overlooking that the EU (member states) has (have) lots of soldiers outside their territory, defending interests that not necessarily are congruent with those of the people that live in those places. The good difference mainly seems to be “different from the US”.)

  26. Yago Says:

    Well, one could take from alin post the idea that culturally Japan’s imitation of the West in many areas, the lack of international projection of their culture, the historically absolute lack of any universalist ideals, could make it a, in a cultural, psychological sense, minor country.
    I think there’s some truth in that, but those are internal dynamics produced by … well, whatever. We can probably never know. McArthur didn’t call them 12 year olds for nothing, I guess.

    But how has them behaving like minor people without any interest in becoming anything like France (a hegemon wannabe, sort of) have anything to do with alin feeling the need to “politically support them” ? They may be psychological minor, but politically they are as major as one can think about. It’s fine to find them cute and adorable but that doesn’t justify their economic policies.

  27. Yago Says:

    To put it in other terms, Japan may be a minor “nation”, but it’s not, by any strech of the meaning, a minor “country”.

  28. Momus Says:

    Clearly, number 1 and number 2 are contextual. We can juxtapose Japan against a second entity of our own choosing. The choice of that second entity will result in Japan being seen as “major” or “minor”. Now, it’s Marxy who mostly compares Japan with the US, and therefore it’s Marxy who is making Japan “minor”, because on almost all criteria Japan is more minor than the US. As soon as it becomes the minor element in that particular binary, it can lay claim to “Other” or “difference” status, and Alin’s and my arguments gain considerable force. Ironically, it’s Marxy who is giving us that force.

    It’s interesting to look at what Japanese have said about Japan. Sakamoto has said he’d like Japan to be “a beautiful third rate country” (this forms part of the Slow Life argument, an environmental vision of post-industrial Japan slowing down happily). Takashi Murakami has described an eternally infantile Japan, the “Little Boy” of his Japan Society show last year, still in the shadow of the US atomic bomb of the same name. This Japan is kept in a state of eternal submission to the US, never grows up, never becomes responsible for its own actions. Finally, there’s Abe’s plan to “make proud Japan”. Abe would like Japan to emerge from the American shadow and pull its own commercial and military weight in emerging Asia, an “adult”. I can’t speak for Alin, but of these options I much prefer Sakamoto’s vision.

  29. der Says:

    Issue avoidance alarm! The question is why, comparing an objective scale like GDP and a “perceived-majorness scale”, Japan ends at different positions.

  30. check Says:

    While economic wealth can be somewhat translated into military gains, can a country with no recent military experience and a shrinking body of troops, actually contend with China, and maintain regional control, should China very logically choose to leverage their martial strength?

    If the answer is no, then I would contend that Japan (#1 Asia, #2 Global), will be moving down said top-ten list(s), unless they are able to receive significant assistance from certain offshore balancers.

    Which they might. But to what degree, and at what costs?

  31. marxy Says:

    I like Sakamoto’s vision too. I also like riding unicorns.

  32. der Says:

    .. making an ought out of an is, or rather an is out of a “wouldn’t it be nice?” ..

  33. Mitsuko Says:

    Momus’s response is pure sophistry. If the question had been “Japan: rich or poor?”, I guess Momus would plump for poor, on the grounds that Marxy is always comparing Japan with the U.S., and yet its GDP is smaller than the U.S.’s.

  34. Momus Says:

    “I like Sakamoto’s vision too. I also like riding unicorns.”

    But isn’t Sakamoto’s vision just a positive spin on “terminal decline”, the thing you seem to deplore? I think, of the three visions of Japan’s status I outlined, yours most closely resembles Abe’s. Except that you’d probably welcome more foreign capital investment and market deregulation than he does.

  35. der Says:

    presumably he’s not envisaging a future where there’s greater disparaty in income, higher unemployement etc etc.

  36. Chuckles Says:

    [… Is Japan having it both ways by feigning to be a minor underdog while being #2?…]

    In revisiting certain aspects of Chalmers Johnson and Clyde Prestowitzs theses of the new Japanese style of Capitalism (in which, they affirmed, amongst others things, that yes, Japan is in fact – faking it), what is striking is not just how *wrong* they were with respect to their projections for Japanese development (hence their attempt to save their hypotheses by alleging duplicity on the part of the Japanese), but also how attractive their hypotheses still is with respect to certain folks. Some years ago, an op piece appeared in the Australian Financial Review titled – Is Japan Faking It? – underneath the avalanche of trade statistics was the unmistakable stench of Yellow Peril hysteria and bigotry. Of course, when social text narrates a Japan filled with two faced, double crossing, inscrutable, follow-the-master, society of doozers: then the presence of of a market for such views becomes understandable – as well as their persistent appeal.
    No, Japan is not faking it. What – are all the social indices arranged by a Ministry of Propaganda? The proliferation of an underclass, vastening income inequality, a relatively more liberal economic environment, the foment created by issues of multiculturalism and immigration, etc – Is Japan faking all these too?
    Japan is clearly a major country – not only does it have enough resources to wage nuclear war should it so desire, it remains an economic hub for the region, and is rapidly expanding its interests in Latin America and Africa.
    The developmental state model is clearly flawed: and while I appreciate CJs writing in many respects; he fails to understand that the difference between Japan and say USA is not that development is the raison detre of the Japanese state with the converse occuring in the West, but that Japan is a former imperial power that has lost its periphery. That clearly seperates Japan from putative genuine developmental states like S.Korea or any one of the ex-tigers; or possibly in the near future, South Africa.
    I demur at assigning the majorian status of France to its culture and tradition – and rather point at a more obvious and inclusive factor: the retention of its imperial periphery.
    Japan is a major country with major issues, which make understanding those issues all the more important.

  37. trevor Says:

    i’m so prepared, i carry a wacom pen in my pocket..
    wait? wtf are you guys talking about?

  38. alin Says:

    ah, we might be getting a sydney – melbourne and sydney – brisbane shinkansen soon then.

  39. Acefave Says:

    I agree with Chuckles with Chalmers Johnson,
    and about France to certain extent.
    But is developmental state really by-gone era
    story in Japan.More I read about Mitarai of
    Keidanren-Canon President,more I believe JapanInc has transformed to developemental state 2.0.And in immigration-multicultural side I have to say I’m very dissapointed to Iranian family in Saitama has become expellee by ministral order

    And about other genuine developmental state
    Is mineral rich South Africa really a developmental state? Perhaps their growth has
    something to do with the rise of resource hungry Chindia,Don’t you think?
    All other developemental state had very strong power over their citizen(subject?)not only their
    economical activity but their helth care and educational development,and this S.Africa seems to have trouble in my eyes

  40. guest Says:

    As Sakamoto is being quoted out of context, here’s the full quote:

    “I think it would be better if Japan got off that rail and became a beautiful third rate country. It would be nice if Japan was a place of delicious food, beautiful scenery, and abundant nature. If that were the case, I think it wouldn’t matter if one had little money.

    Unfortunately it seems unlikely to happen now that the country is on that track. A period of 55 years since the end of the war, and Japan just can’t get away from being competitive.”

    I agree with Sakamoto: It’s unlikely to happen.

  41. Momus Says:

    That’s not a clear representation of Sakamoto’s views. While quite aware of the difficulties and time scale involved, Sakamoto is actively pursuing projects and ideas which will make these changes happen. He talks in Part 3 of the interview you reference about a currency called Few, and a local environmental trading scheme called LETS:

    “In today’s society, manufactured goods are shipped in from far away. First there’s the manufacturer, followed by brokers, distributors, and then much further down the chain the consumers. That’s why nobody ever sees anybody else’s face and why a dependence on one currency, such as the dollar, develops.
    One example of a community currency system is LETS, which stands for “Local Exchange Trading System”. First proposed by Michael Linton, a Canadian, the system is already being implemented in various regions worldwide. I believe it’s a system that recycles the energy of all the people in a single community.
    A recycling-oriented society is a society that’s activated on a local level. I think the community currency system is one way to achieve that kind of society.”

  42. Ken Says:

    Well, there’s no hint that Japan’s looking to ‘get small’ in a Seth Godin sort of way. As the population shrinks and threatens economic output, as well as Japan’s stance as the #2 economy in the world, the government seeks greater and greater influence in international diplomacy: a permanent seat at the UNSC, the upgrading of the Defense Agency to ministry status, looking at revising Article 9, even Nakagawa’s comments that the debate on nukes should be opened (which would have earned him a formal rebuke even 5 years ago).

    These moves add up to an insecurity complex. Japan sees its power and influence fading. Other nations are poised to do what they did in the 1950s and 60s (after all, they provided the road map and even made the mistakes in the system obvious so as to avoid them).

    The type of nationalism that one sees in kokka no hinkaku and such works does not come from a healthy self-confidence, but from a retreat. They are a defensive reaction to the inability to commnuicate with the outside. It is a turtle sucking back into itself. So are black trucks screaming about the emperor in 2006. Kind of like ‘The South will rise again’ mentality. An inability to grasp the current situation and leverage true positives into future gain.

    Japan is in serious, serious trouble. I don’t see anyone, in politics or business, with true vision who is doing something new or exciting.

  43. Aceface Says:

    Never in my living memory there was a moment that
    Japan was not in serious trouble of any kind.
    If you have solution tell us about it or you too will be a part of the problem,Ken.

  44. marxy Says:

    When I propose solutions, it’s imperialism.

  45. Aceface Says:

    After all you’ve been saying about this country
    and now you are becoming diffidence?(笑)
    C’mon Marxy give me a shot

  46. Your Humble Janitor Says:

    Uncle Momus:

    Its cute of him to refer to those sorts of things, really genuinely kawaii. From everything I’ve read about LETS, its a return to the peasant barter system at heart. In all honesty, Sakamoto does not seem to be qualified to tell sound economic thinking from snake oil. But honestly, I dont expect entertainers to be experts on economics. (thinly veiled snark fully intended)


    Just out of curiosity, how far back does your living memory of Japan go?

  47. Aceface Says:

    “Just out of curiosity, how far back does your living memory of Japan go?”

    I was born in 1970.

    In 70’s there were cold war(remember?)Yen rise caused by Nixon shock,Kissinger’s secret visit to Beijing that bypass Tokyo,Fall of Saigon and american withdrawl from Indochina,assasination of Park Chung Hee ,poitical turmoil in China after death of Mao,envronmental pollution,terrorism from both left and right IN JAPAN.

    All these happenings but still people think
    70’s were relatively stable times.

    But I didn’t think much about politics until I’ve come of my age in 80’s.
    So it was not LIVING memory actually.

  48. Your Humble Janitor Says:

    Ah the good old Cold War! I remember Mutually Assured Destruction so fondly. Ford’s seeming ineptness, the Carter Malaise, Iran hostage crisis, terrorism everywhere. Good times man, good times. Class of 68 myself.

  49. cas Says:

    Japan is, perhaps, a major country, in the same way Gates is a major individual. Japan is also a minor country, perhaps, in the same way geeks are minor individuals. Gates and geeks are #2s in the same way Japan is #2.