Japan's once mighty tech industry has fallen far behind Silicon Valley
News On Japan via mercurynews.com -- Oct 13
In the 1980s, Sony co-founder Akio Morita fired a verbal missile across the Pacific at Silicon Valley: Japan's supremacy in business and technology would overwhelm U.S. competitors and lead to America's decline.
"They were about to conquer the world," recalled Ta-lin Hsu, founder of Palo Alto-based private equity firm H&Q Asia Pacific.
Decades later, though, there is very little swagger in the Land of the Rising Sun, which once dominated the global tech industry, from memory chips to TVs. Many of Japan's consumer electronics giants are now has-beens. Its chips industry is struggling. And China, which surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy, now is the chief rival to the United States.
For a nation long proud of its engineering prowess -- humanoid robots, high-tech toilets, superfast Internet, high-speed railways -- the decline has "been shocking," said Martin Herlihy, a longtime Tokyo consultant and entrepreneur.
Industry experts on both sides of the Pacific, though, caution not to bet against Japan's ability to rebound -- something that in the long run, they say, would be good for Silicon Valley and the United States.
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