Asia may be the economic region of the future, but its two major countries -- China and Japan -- are not without serious problems at the moment. Japan is in a period of economic stagnation that is verging on deflation. China is in a period of strong economic growth, but one that is always under threat to be interrupted by financial instability.

Current conditions in both countries became clearer to me when I visited them recently. The trip to China was under the auspices of a U.S-government-related agency.

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