Case 223 - The Marlboro Man and Japanese Import Policy Toward Cigarettes
Ryan, Michael P.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative initiated a Section 301 action against Japan in September 1985 over its import policies regarding tobacco. Despite some steps to liberalize its domestic market, Tokyo persistently maintained high tariffs; imposed discriminatory rules on marketing, advertising, and distribution; and held a monopoly on the importation and sale of tobacco products through the state-owned Japan Tobacco, Inc. This case study examines some underlying sources of U.S.-Japanese conflict, the American tobacco companies’ strategy for entry into Japan, the USTR’s investigative procedures, and the ethics of the tobacco trade. It also uses the case as a significant example of Washington’s success in bringing about fundamental change in Japan’s political economy during the 1980s.