Not too long ago, I sat in the cabin of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on a Tokyo-to-Boston flight that would bring me home after several days spent visiting business leaders in Asia, including Japan. When Japan Airlines launched the nonstop Narita-to-Logan flights last April, I saw it as a positive sign. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Japan was an object of fascination for people around the world — the source of some of the world’s most important consumer products and most significant managerial innovations. Since then, global interest in Japan has waned as the country’s economy has stagnated. To my mind, the new nonstop flights were a metaphor for a world that needed to reengage with the world’s third largest economy — a development that I believe would be beneficial for everyone.
A few days after I landed in Boston, governments around the world grounded the new Dreamliner. While this may make traveling to Japan less convenient, we shouldn’t let it deter us. And after talking with the executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders working to revive Japan’s economy, I am certain that anyone who believes the West no longer has anything to learn from Japan is making a mistake.