THERE is a fairly widespread notion that the Japanese nation in the late 1980s is engaged in a grand debate concerning the new policies required by its international predicament and by foreign expectations. Columnists tell us that major changes are afoot and that by now those concerned are discussing not the desirability of such changes but how to fit them in with customary practices. We read that a debate rages about how to import more, and that the Japanese people are waking up to the need to assume international responsibilities in keeping with their economic power. The notion that such debates take place is wrong. It is rooted apparently in a belief that the Japanese ought to be discussing these things, rather than in any evidence that they are. In fifteen years as a correspondent ... I have discovered neither the `grand debate' nor the smaller ones concerning imports and the more responsible role.