Japan to the rescue!

March 08, 1991

Well, well, well! Now that the fighting in the Persian Gulf is over, Japan comes riding to the rescue, astride a metaphorical white stallion like the one the emperor used to ride, offering $9 billion to help pay for war costs.

Mind you, even though Japan gets an irreplaceable share of its petroleum from the Persian Gulf, the country nevertheless didn't send a single soldier or sailor to fight, and, for that matter, sent support groups such as medics only in laughably small numbers. At the outset the Japanese promised to help foot the bill for the operation, but these promises tended to be as evanescent as Japan's promises to lift trade barriers. Only after the war was won did Japan's parliament approve the $9 billion, and apparently even that money is to be earmarked for rebuilding nations damaged by the war. In the end, that could well lead Arabs to look upon the Japanese as the benevolent rebuilders of all the destruction wrought by America. You have to hand it to them, those Japanese have a keen eye for public relations.

There is, of course, also the possibility that the $9 billion in aid will eventually come back to Japan in the form of contracts awarded to Japanese companies to do the rebuilding.

The government seems to recognize that it would look a little bad if, after having sat on the sidelines during the war, Japanese construction companies should rush to the rescue.

It will be interesting to see, a year from now, what Japan chose when given the option of looking bad or making money.

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