By Patrick J. Buchanan We can thank Providence that the earthquake was not 150 miles closer to Tokyo, else Japanâ€™s dead might number in the millions.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls it the worst crisis since World War II. Yet, horrendous as it is, it does not, thus far, compare with that. For the earthquake dead are not 1 percent of those who perished in World War II.
Between 1942 and 1945, Japan was stripped naked of an empire that embraced Formosa, Korea, Manchuria, the entire China coast, all of French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the Philippines and the Western Pacific out to Guam and south to Guadalcanal.
She sustained 2 million military dead and 500,000 to a million civilian dead under U.S. carpet-bombing that reduced her great cities to smoldering rubble and Hiroshima and Nagasaki to atomic ash.
Yet, 25 years after the most devastating defeat in modern history, Japan boasted the second largest and most dynamic economy on earth.
Under the proconsulship of Gen. MacArthur, Japan rose to her feet, renounced war and reached an annual growth rate of 10 percent by the 1960s, 5 percent in the 1970s, 4 percent in the 1980s. Smaller than Montana and with fewer resources, she created an economy half as large as the U.S. and in many ways technologically superior.
An extraordinary accomplishment of an extraordinary people.
At the end of the 1980s, Japan seemed poised to surpass America.
It did not happen. The last two decades were lost decades, with Japanâ€™s economy shrinking to a third of that of the United States. Last year, Japan was overtaken as the worldâ€™s second largest economy by China. Beijing now produces more automobiles and has a trade surplus with America that dwarfs that of Japan.
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