The sharp downturn in business at McDonald's — which has thrived for most of the past 44 years in Japan — has got everybody talking. This past January alone, revenues at existing outlets, the company announced, had fallen year-on-year by a whopping 38.6 percent, with losses for the 2014 business year projected to reach some ¥2.18 billion.

Writing in Shincho 45 magazine (April), Hosei University Business School professor Kosuke Ogawa asks, "Are we now on the verge of a 'Post-McDonald's Era?'"

In Ogawa's view, McDonald's followed the flag, achieving its global deployment on the heels of America's projection of political and economic influence. In the wake of World War II, U.S.-style values had swept over the world in conquest, leading to an "over-concentration" of American influence. Now that this influence has begun to wane, he writes, a commensurate decline in its emblematic fast food brand is to be expected.