66 years later, it’s deja vu all over again
As most nonagenarians will recall, AmericansenjoyedreallycheapJapaneseimportsduring the 1930s. Toys of all sorts, noisemakers, fireworks, every sort of household good from lamps to lace, frames, clocks, clothing, shoes. You name it, they made (copied) it — and on the cheap. Our depression helped.
Yes, there was a “catch.” The function and durability of Japanese goods was consistently so inferior as to eventually mock even the cheapness of their prices. “Made in Japan” became the joke of the times. Japan’s army was the world’s largest. Then, America received a bonus from the Japanese emperor for being his number one trading importer: December 7, 1941. In World War II, 20 million died.
Today’s news reports are prominently declaring horrendous violations of America’s importcodesbyChina.Harmfulcomponentsofpet food, fertilizer, toys, toothpaste and cereals imported from China are under investigation. Apple juice, xanthan gum, glycerin, wheat gluten, soy protein, frozen shrimp and some fish, even synthetic Vitamin C from China are believed tainted. The crash of an SUV recently on an American highway resulted from a tire exploding, killing two occupants. The tire was found to be in violation of automotive safety standards, lacking required circular expansion banding. You guessed it: Made in China. Thousands more Americans are riding on similar tires at this moment.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, a large photograph appeared on the front page of the New York Herald-Tribune documenting the Japanese ambassador and party making a goodwill call on President Roosevelt, in “peaceful” pursuit of a Pacific trade agreement. Nine hours later, the Japanese plunged their dagger into Oahu.
Should an official Chinese ambassadorial party present itself on the steps of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for any reason, I only hope there would be time to batten down the hatches, prime our defense and missile systems and this time find ourselves truly prepared to give any devil his due. Preemption, too, must always remain an option. Richard Bowers Sarasota, Florida