was by far, the most interesting decade our nation has ever seen. After several decades of weak leadership, low morale, internal struggle, and a weak economy, Ronald Regan
came into office to extremely high acclaim. His second election was one of the biggest landslide
s in history. The nation's morale was finally restored. However, the biggest fear in the US at the time was the scare that the increasingly economically powerful Japanese were going to effectively 'buy America
The most memorable aspect of this 80's Japanese invasion scare was clearly visible in movies and television. Ever notice how in the 80's, any time the future was depicted, it was always a futuristic 80s? Boxy cars became futuristic robot driven boxy cars. Big hair became really big hair. Neon became excessively gaudy and bright neon. And the evil Japanese businessmen were completely in control of everything. The fear and fascination with Japanese culture was everywhere. All little boys started taking Karate classes, we all watched Ninja turtles, watched Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies, and many other things.
The reason this scare happened was the relatively high interest rates set by Paul Volcker during the 80s. As the economy was recovering, the increased interest rate was set to keep investments in the US and strengthen the value of the US Dollar. The Japanese, who had virtually no interest rate in Japan, saw the US as a good investment, and directed many funds onto American shores. This great deal of foreign direct investment was something that benefitted the US very much. However, it was difficult for normal people to realize that it was beneficial.
As the US Auto industry and Manufacturing industry came under serious pressure, many people directly blamed the Japanese for their woes. Many people remember the "Buy American" and "Look for the MADE IN USA label" ads on television. However, the woes of American industries were just capitalism at work. The American industry became very sloppy and inefficient due to lack of competition until the Japanese came along. Quite simply, the Japanese were more efficient at manufacturing and pricing. This at first led the American industry to heavily market "Made in the USA," but that can only go so far. They realized the hard way that you can't feed people crap and expect them to swallow it just becaues it's American made.
As the US economy recovered, the US took its place again at the top spot thanks to the boom in the Information Technology and financial services fields. The US was forced to move away from just manufacturing and services to a very diverse and creative economy. Now that the tables are turned and the US is extremely strong while Japan has been in recession, the reverse is happening, and investment in Japan is increasing in anticipation of recovery. Today, because of the US strength, the cultural trends are reversed. Everyone is scared that American culture will completely overtake their own. This has resulted in a strong Anti-American sentiment in Europe and other areas of the world. This is very understandable, when in parts of Eastern Germany, a bust of Karl Marx in a town square is now surrounded by skateboarding kids and a McDonalds down the street.
Change has always made the world stronger. One nation's weakness is another's opportunity. This, however, leads to many problems. We can't believe the movies, the world is turning into something that nobody will ever be able to accurately predict.