National Geographic : 1992 Mar
Did Africa move from colonialism to self government so rapidly that its people were totally unprepared to govern themselves? We cannot reverse history and provide for a more orderly transition from colonialism to statehood. But there may be another answer-world government (a greatly strengthened UN?) in which the central government would not permit local tyrants to impose inhuman conditions on their subjects while accumulating enormous wealth for themselves. JESSE E. AIKEN Hickory, North Carolina Japan in the Pacific The contradiction between the great national pros perity and the not so great standard of living in Japan is hard to explain unless one assumes that the Japanese economy is rigged to favor export trade at the expense of the common man-that is, low-priced exports and high-priced domestic goods and services. ROBERT B. JACOBS Tallahassee,Florida As a child during World War II, I saw maps depict ing the advances of the Japanese empire after Pearl Harbor similar to the one on pages 42-3. Does his tory repeat itself? You bet it does. This time it's an economic war. While the American public has slept, a second Pearl Harbor has happened with the destruction of our television and related electronics industry. Next will be the auto indus try. Can we win? Only if the American public de mands that our government halt further erosion of our economic system. We must insist on an equal and fair trade agreement with the Japanese. MARIO A. CROCIATI Plymouth, Massachusetts Regarding references to Australia's economy in the article on Japan's influence in the Pacific region: Recent data show definite improvement. True, our external deficit remains large, but it is falling, not rising. The deficit was 12 billion dollars U. S. in 1990-91, below the 17 billion dollars for 1989-90 cited. The problems of excessive imports, high inflation, and high labor costs appear in large part behind us thanks to application of longer term policy measures. Inflation is now running at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, the lowest in 20 years. I. J. WATT ECONOMIC MINISTER, EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA Washington, D. C. Surely Japan is a mid-life crisis waiting to explode. The elimination of a play-filled childhood com bined with extreme pressures to succeed academi cally-only to be rewarded by long hours in the office, a long commute, and a ride on a mechanical horse-must make the populace ask: Is this life well spent? Yet it is not far removed from the exis tence of many middle-class Americans. I take NOTHING OUTLASTS THE ENERGIZER.