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Home > Books & Journals > Book Review Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Book Review #27: May 7, 2002

"Is Japan Still Number One?" by Ezra F. Vogel

Reviewed by Takahiro Miyao (GLOCOM)

Title: Is Japan Still Number One
Author: Ezra F. Vogel
Publisher: Palenduk Publications, Malaysia
Date/Time: 2000
Pages: English text 141 pages (Paperback)
ISBN: 967-978-728-1


Japan's competitiveness ranking has been declining in recent years, and Japan is now ranked in the 30th position, according to the latest annual report by the IMD (International Institute for Management Development) in Switzerland, as J Sean Curtin pointed out:
In view of the fact that Japan was once ranked number one by the IMD, it is interesting to see how this situation is looked at by the author of the famous book, "Japan as Number One" (Harvard University Press, 1979).

"I have no regrets writing 'Japan as Number One.' On the contrary, when I look over what I said in that book, I believe it was a correct description of Japan at the time and anticipated trends that developed in the 1980s after the book came out," said Ezra Vogel in the introduction of this book ( He admits that Japan has been too slow in adapting to the new economic environment in recent years. However, he insists that Japan is not in a crisis and many foreign observers mistakenly believe that the Japanese economy is facing disaster.

In this book, Ezra Vogel suggests that what Japan need are (1) political leaders who can build a broader social consensus to make necessary changes in society, (2) reform in the educational system, especially higher education, and (3) a more positive and open stance in international affairs. He concludes that "a time will come again when Japan will make progress in dealing with its problems, and people at home and abroad will once again appreciate its virtues."

Finally, it is worth noting that this book is published in Malaysia, and believe it or not, that country is ranked higher than Japan in this year's IMD competitive rankings:

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