It's tough being an economic juggernaut. Under pressure to reduce its trade surplus, the Japanese government has announced a series of initiatives to make Japan an "import superpower." They include everything from export finance loans for certain types of non-Japanese firms to a computerized network of market information. (Contact Japan External Trade Organization in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, or San Francisco.) Sound suspiciously like things the U.S. government should be doing for its exporters? Well, maybe for once we'll be grateful to see competition from Japan.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf