Business executives outside of Japan have complained for decades that Japan 's distribution system is essentially closed and does not permit easy access. The Japanese government and Japanese business executives, in turn, highlight the continuous introduction of distribution opening measures in their efforts to appease foreign critics. Globalization has made major inroads in distribution activities of firms, and the burst of Japan 's bubble economy and the subsequent Asian crisis have brought major changes to the business environment. In follow-up to a 1991 meeting, in 1998 we reconvened the leading distribution thinkers and doers in the policy, business, and research communities from 12 countries. In this meeting, 70 participants with a high level of distribution expertise, held, for three days, discussions that focused on the complexity of distribution and trade practices, on impending changes and on future opportunities.
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