Bill Powell

Stories by Bill Powell

  • Japan: All In The Family

    Since the early 1950s, the presidents of the vast group of Mitsubishi companies in Japan have met once a month. They gather in a central Tokyo office building (owned by the group's real-estate company), have a light lunch and, occasionally, sip a beer or two (Kirin is the group's brewer). They call it kinyo-kai--the Friday meeting. And whoever first came up with the idea probably never thought that, almost 40 years later, these bull sessions would figure prominently in the nightmares of United States trade negotiators. ...
  • Gorbachev Goes To Tokyo: No Deal

    The trip to Tokyo, Mikhail Gorbachev said at the end, came down to 12 hours of "political detention in the Akasaka Palace." Hisjoke conceded the obvious: the first visit by a Soviet leader to Japan showcased Gorbachev's growing impotence. The Japanese had hoped he would match his epochal opening to Europe by relinquishing four islands in the Kuril chain seized by Joseph Stalin in the days immediately following World War II. They were reportedly ready to offer $25 billion in badly needed grants and credits. No deal. Gorbachev and Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu finally smiled for the cameras, clinked champagne glasses, linked pinkies in a traditional Japanese gesture of agreement--and promised to talk again. "A year ago, the feeling was, 'With Gorbachev, anything was possible'," said one Japanese Soviet specialist. "But by the time he came, nothing was possible." ...