[FEATURE] Which Country Will Collapse First - China, Japan or America?

Tuesday, November 30 2010 @ 01:03 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

It all started when I stumbled on this controversial book titled The Coming Collapse of China.

Until then I hadn't imagined that there could be an author specializing in the unscientific field called political "science" who, like management gurus such as Michael Hammer or Peter F. Drucker, wouldn't take it for granted that when the subject entity is big enough, it should be considered as a going concern.

As I wrote in those days, I didn't really care about the fate of China. Seven years later, I still remain that way because where the country is heading is basically none of my business. Recent rumors on the Web have it that Gordon Chang, the author of the book, has now revised his prophecy, saying the collapse will happen in ten years from now if not in 2011 as he originally predicted. My take on the rescheduling is: who knows, and who cares?

I still remember writing a long mail on March 1, 2003 to Mr. Chang. The subsequent exchange of views between us in more than 2,000 mails and one face-to-face talk at a sushi bar in Tokyo's Roppongi has helped me transform myself from a retired businessman into something else. As of now I am still unable to tell the name of the shore on which I was washed up.

Yet, I think I can give you some tips if you are a proponent or an opponent of any collapse theory.

There are two important questions you must ask yourself before discussing the probability of China's collapse, Japan's or America's.

Question 1:

"Am I planning to take specific steps to expedite or prevent it, or just forecasting about something I can't really internalize?"

As I wrote earlier this year, plans are one thing and forecasts are quite another. It is true that forecasting is an integral part of a plan, but if you remain uncommitted to your forecast, you can't call it a plan.

And if you are only betting on a horse, instead of jockeying yourself, you should know the fate of a nation has nothing in common with the result of the horse racing.

The same applies if you are a weatherman. You've got to be an idiot to claim you can foretell the weather of the day one year from now because you are equipped with state-of-the-art supercomputers hooked up to meteorological satellites.

You may still insist that you are committed to something or someone. But hold on a second.

The single most important thing to understand is that you can never commit yourself to faceless people or those living thousands miles away from your hometown. All you can actually do is to tweet, like a little birdie, about the doomed future of China, or the endless supremacy of America, for that matter.

Question 2:

"How do I define the word 'collapse'? Does one of those regime changes deserve to be called a collapse?"

Another way to ask about the same thing is: "Would I readily declare a brain-dead person dead?" If you wouldn't, you should drop all your argument for or against the collapse theory at hand.

In this "globalized" world where state-of-the-art life-support systems are available everywhere at affordable prices, it's highly improbable for any nation-state but tiny banana republics to literally fall apart.

With these questions always in mind, I started writing a book which I would have titled The Unviable Japan two and a half years ago. In retrospect, I suspect the American literary agent might not have pissed me off the way she did if I had thought about titling it The Coming Collapse of Japan; she wouldn't have been upset so much because then I was just forecasting Japan's future while remaining uncommitted to anything.

In fact I wanted to declare my former home country already dead, or at least, terminally ill. That is why the American woman with helplessly superficial, piecemeal knowledge about the country dismissed me as an oddball, though in a nice way.

Still today, a schizophrenic, surreal sense of attending the deathwatch of the country where I was born haunts me day in, day out. Last Saturday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan told his immediate predecessor that he wouldn't quit if his approval rating should hit 1% - which is not really unlikely - without giving any specific reason to hang on.

So the answer to my own question about which country will collapse first is: "It's Japan." Nobody can be mistaken because the country has already crumbled. I am 120% sure about my observation no matter how Japan "experts" in the U.S. doubt it. While they always substitute their hubris for profound knowledge about the Japanese language and history, this humble blogger has lived these turbulent years in Japan since 1935.

Who comes the next? Obviously it's not China because if the country of Confucius should collapse sooner or later, it would be coming at a glacial pace. In the meantime the United States of America will have exhausted its "last best hope" by 2014 when the Republican president, Sarah Palin or whoever it is, may or may not lose ground to the Democrats once again.

But once again, who knows, and who cares?

You better mind your own fate.

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