It’s Toyota, not "Japan," that you’re fighting Mr. Ford
Here's the latest column from Jim Womack (read my Q&A with him here).
On Nov. 22 after a speech at the National Press Club, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford told the media, with apparent earnestness, that his company “can compete with Toyota, but we can't compete with Japan.”
This is an old myth.
Click on the link above to read more.
If any government helped the Japanese at that time, it was the American government. When the Reagan administration came up with the Voluntary Restraint Agreement in 1981, it limited the number of imported Japanese cars sold in the United States for a period of years. Because consumer demand for Japanese cars then was greater than the supply, profit margins on the cars Japanese firms were allowed to sell soared. The Japanese companies then used those enormous profits to invest in North American factories and develop pricier up-market brands such as the Lexus.
Interesting point, and I've heard Daniel Roos talk about this as well. Ah, the unintended consequences of government interference in the market.