Education About Asia: Online Archives

EAA Interview with Edward J. Lincoln

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Edward J. Lincoln returned to Brookings as a Senior Fellow in September 1996. For the previous two-and-a-half years, he served as Special Economic Advisor to Ambassador Walter Mondale in Tokyo, Japan. In that capacity, he was responsible for providing Ambassador Mondale with analysis and advice on economic developments important to the conduct of bilateral affairs. Prior to his position in Tokyo, Dr. Lincoln had been with the Brookings Institute for nine years.

At Brookings, Lincoln specializes in the Japanese economy, U.S.-Japan economic relations, and broader Asian economic topics. His latest book, Troubled Times: U.S.-Japan Trade Relations in the 1990s, was published by Brookings in May 1999. His previous publications at Brookings include Japan’s New Global Role (1993), Japan’s Unequal Trade (1990), and Japan: Facing Economic Maturity (1988). In addition, Lincoln has published numerous articles and has spoken widely on issues related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations. He also teaches a course on the Japanese economy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Lincoln holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and both a master’s degree in East Asian Studies and a doctorate in Economics from Yale University. He has served on the board of directors of the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. as well as the advisory boards for the Japan Society of New York and the Journal of Japanese Studies.

In the following interview with EAA editor, Lucien Ellington, Lincoln discusses the reasons why Americans should learn more about Japan’s economy and U.S.-Japan economic problems.

Lucien: Ed, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you share with our readers how you became interested in your discipline, economics, and your specialization area, Japan?

Ed: That’s a good question, since very few students back in the 1960s were interested in Japan, much less the Japanese economy. My story is quite typical of others in my generation— most of us have accidental personal reasons for pursuing a Japan specialization. After a brief two-week unit on economics my senior year in high school, I was sufficiently intrigued to pursue it in college. The introductory course excited me more, so I rather quickly decided to major in economics. To me, economics provided a way to analyze and understand the nature of the transactions that make up so much of peoples’ daily lives. My interest was—and continues to be—less on the purely theoretical side and more on the policy side. Economic analysis has something to contribute to many important policy issues, both domestic and international.