In the year the West knows as 604 A.D., one of Japan's most revered statesmen, Shotoku Taishi, issued a "constitution," the first of whose 17 articles states, "Harmony is to be valued."

So it was; so it is to this day — valued so highly that it is apt to be seen whether it exists or not. Japan's industrialization was a government-led forced march to a national goal expressed in a government slogan: "Rich country, strong army." Individual suffering counted for little. There was a good deal of it, inevitably. Peasants pouring into cities were herded into factories. Hours were long, wages low, supervision harsh, machines implacable. It's galley slavery in modern dress.

"Steam was pumped into the factory ... making the air inside so bad it was a miracle if you didn't get sick. ... I ended up in the hospital. Malnutrition was partly to blame. ... I wanted to quit and go home (to the country), but (the boss) wouldn't let us leave until our contracts were up." — girl, 14, of an Osaka textile mill she was toiling at in 1910.