Scarred by past woes, Japan sees U.S. bailout as a first step

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As America's financial crisis has deepened, Japan has found itself gripped by a sense of déjà vu.

The unfolding drama on Wall Street and in Washington has brought an outpouring of comparisons by Japan's press and policy makers to their own country's banking meltdown in the 1990s and its costly government bailouts. Overwhelmingly, the conclusion seems to be that last week's $700 billion rescue package is only the first step in an arduous journey toward financial recovery similar to the one that Japan made a decade ago.

"America is walking the same road as Japan, and that road will be long and hard ahead," said Hirofumi Gomi, a former commissioner of the Financial Services Agency in Japan, the industry watchdog that oversaw the banking cleanup. "There is a lot more pain and turmoil coming."

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