Tokyo's bid to ascend to the very top tier of international financial centers (IFCs) was ultimately unsuccessful. This paper argues that to overcome the large disadvantages of being a latecomer, the IFC goal must be elevated above other competing objectives so that the necessary intermediate steps can be achieved in timely fashion. The most important specific failing was the inability of the Japanese yen to become a major international vehicle currency. With a sharper and earlier policy focus, particularly in the area of yen trade invoicing, Tokyo's bid for first tier IFC status would have been a more compelling one.

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