In academic articles, and even more so in the popular business press, Japanese industrial purchasing behavior has been painted with a single brush. The Japanese purchaser-supplier relationship is typically described as cooperative, interdependent, integrated, and, often, exclusive. Outside sellers, especially non-Japanese companies, are rarely able to penetrate this relationship. However, this characterization of Japanese industrial purchasing was always overstated. It may have accurately depicted purchaser-supplier relations in a small number of industries, most notably the automobile industry. But the portrayal failed to distinguish between different sectors of the Japanese economy, not to mention individual companies or products. Furthermore, although the pace has been painfully slow, many segments of the Japanese market have been opening up to foreign competition.
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