Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


John M. Bowler

First Page



Recent polls indicate a dramatic surge in anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. Sources of this sentiment are Japanese purchases of high-profile United States companies and real estate and the lack of similar opportunities for United States firms in Japan. This Note recognizes that although Japanese interest in mergers and acquisitions has increased, this interest focuses on foreign companies. The reason for the lack of activity within Japan are the various legal, structural, and cultural barriers that impede acquisitions, both foreign and Japanese, of Japanese companies. First, this Note considers T. Boone Pickens Jr.'s recent battle for seats on the board of directors of Koito Manufacturing as an example of how a confrontational approach to foreign access in Japan can prove unsuccessful. This Note then examines both legal and extralegal barriers to foreign investment. It is suggested that the friendly and successful acquisition by British-based Polly Peck International of fifty-one percent ownership in Sansui Electric Company is a model for future foreign direct investment activity in Japan. This Note concludes that continuing pressure for reform, both in Japan and by the United States under the recently completed Structural Impediments Initiative and proposed legislation, will lead to increased foreign investment activity in Japan in the 1990s.