At Long Last, Corporate Japan Is Going On Its Big Acquisition Spree In America

Gung Ho

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Corporate Japan’s takeover of American assets was an 80’s economic fantasy that turned out to be a fallacy.Because the Japanese were buying a lot of American debt (as a function of the US’ big trade deficit with Japan) the belief was that Japan would use all of its money to buy America’s crown jewels.

The 1986 movie Gung-Ho played on that fear, as a Japanese car company bought up an American plant (and hilarity ensued).

Anyway, it didn’t really happen and China has replaced Japan as America’s big Asian bogeyman.


Now in 2012, we’re starting to see Corporate Japan expand its territories.

Just look at the deals we’ve seen in the last few days:

  • Sotbank just acquired a huge stake in Sprint for a staggering $20 billion.
  • Auto parts company Toyota Industries is spending $759 million (in cash) to buy US auto parts maker Cascade.
  • Last week, industrial parts company Dayton was acquired by Japanese firm Misumi.
  • On October 5, Japanese firm Takeda Pharmaceutical bought a small pharmaceutical maker in Montana.
  • In September, recruitment site was bought by a Japanese firm in a deal thought to be worth over a $1 billion.
  • In April, Japanese air conditioning company Daikin bought a US rival for $3.7 billion.

So what’s going on? Is it because Japan owns a ton of US dollars that now it needs to collect on, as everyone feared in the 80s.

Heck no. The CEO of Softbank made it clear at the press conference when it acquired Sprint. Growth in Japan is pretty much non-existent. If you want to expand, you have to go abroad, and the US still looks like a fertile territory. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

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