The small text of this cartoon may be hard to read (and for some strange reason it sometimes fails to appear at all). The date of Japan's buying of Pearl Harbor is December 7, 1987.  At that time Japan was at the peak of its economic power. Many Japanese businesses were flush with cash, and, instead of reducing debt levels, they often opted to make flashy purchases around the world. Many of these same companies then had to sell these properties at large losses after the bubble burst starting around 1990. As of now (the start of 2002), Japan's economy has yet to recover from the high-flying 80s and the subsequent crash of the 90s. But during the late 80s, Japan's economy seemed both invincible and predatory to many in the United States. Absurd theories of how Japanese businesses used mysterious Oriental secrets to avoid the ordinary constraints of the capitalist marketplace abounded in those years.