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If the Japanese Can Overcome WW II Enmity, Surely American Firms Can Succeed in Asia

September 30, 1990

James Flanigan's article "Asia Beckons as a Land of Vast Opportunity" (Sept. 12, 1990) was a well-done piece on the Asia Pacific market. I recently spent three weeks visiting Singapore and Indonesia.

In both countries I was impressed by the American presence in music, clothes and food. Every hotel we visited had an "American buffet breakfast." I was disappointed, however, to see how completely the automobile market was dominated by the Japanese.

In many hotels the elevators were Hitachi, as was the moveable sidewalk in the Singapore airport. It occurred to me that the Japanese must have overcome enormous buyer resistance in those two countries, where people have memories of the World War II Japanese occupation. I think the American auto makers really missed the boat by failing to develop these markets.

It may be too late for car makers, but other industries should be prepared to develop markets, particularly in Indonesia, whose next census should report a population in excess of 180 million. While in that country I visited high schools in Java and Sumatra and met administrators, teachers and hundreds of students.

Indonesian students, from grades seven through 12, study English and are fascinated with California. I got the sense that they almost see it as a land unto itself. I'm convinced that an aggressive marketing campaign by California-based companies could produce substantial dividends in a very short period.

WILLIAM WEBSTER

Educational administration professor

California State University

Bakersfield

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