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Joke:Take heart, America. Three monkey wrenches have been thrown into Japan's well-oiled economic machine. It's only a mater of time before that powerful engine of productivity begins to sputter and fail.What could cause such a sharp turnaround? High interest rates? Increased unemployment? Lower productivity? No, it's something much more economically debilitating - and permanent.Three American lawyers have become the first foreign attorneys permitted to practice law in Japan. What's more, two of them are from New York!The decline has begun.Japan has one attorney for every 10,000 residents, compared to the U.S. ratio of one attorney for every 390 residents. For every 100 attorneys trained in Japan, there are 1,000 engineers. In the United States, that ratio is reversed.But a law that became effective on April 1 permits foreigners to practice in Japan for the first time since 1955. Already, an additional 20 American and six British lawyers have applied for permission to open practices in Japan.If anything can slow the Japanese economy, it's the presence of American attorneys. What better way to even our balance of trade than to send Japan our costliest surplus commodity?
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