The first over-sized Wal-Mart superstore has opened in the land of the Rising Sun, the start of the economic colonization of Japan by the American giant. The store opened in the city of Numazu, around 60 miles south of Tokyo, under the logo of Seiyu, an indigenous company now owned by Wal-Mart. This Wal-Mart has a parking lot on the roof — something the company doesn’t have to do in America, the land of infinite ground level parking. Shoppers ride a moving walkway, like you see in airports, that takes shoppers with oversized carts up to their cars. It’s all very un-Japanese, and apparently there was no opposition to the store similar to the now standard battleground mentality in the United States. A story about the opening of the superstore by the Associated Press said, “Harmony is valued over dissent in Japan, making grassroots protests against suburban sprawl rare.” The Japanese government at one time placed size restrictions on stores, but those regulations are gone now, and the big stores are coming to tiny Japan. Wal-Mart took control over Seiyu, which owned 400 stores, in two phases. According to the AP, existing Japanese retailers are now imitating Wal-Mart, including the use of the phrase, “everyday low prices.”
Americans may find it comforting to know that you can now travel to distant Japan in search of the unique culture and ambiance, and instead drive by Wal-Mart supercenters to remind you of American retail colonialism. Perhaps soon we will be able to watch a made for TV film called “Wal-Mart of the August Moon,” or “Wal-Mart Over the River Kwai.” Is the sun on that flag rising, or setting?