Beginning in the 1970s and continuing into the "bubble" years of the 1980s, one of the buzzwords heard often in the media and from the mouths of politicians was "internationalization." Internationalization supposedly meant that the Japanese would become confident world citizens, fluent in English and cognizant of world trends and events, and this newfound worldly sophistication would match the nations' economic prowess.

The key to better internationalization, we were told, was through more English teaching programs, purchasing more imported products and sending more Japanese students abroad to study, plus massive publicity campaigns to convince people of the need for internationalization.

At the same time, conservative Japanese politicians made much about the "homogeneous" nature of the Japanese race and how that made for a "unique" culture. Inherent in this argument was a sense of assumed superiority that said, effectively, no one who is not Japanese will ever understand the subtle aspects of this culture.