At the start of the 1990s, the Japanese postwar economic miracle came to a screeching halt. A series of disastrous market collapses and an ensuing economic meltdown resulted in what is now referred to as Japan's "Lost Decade." Yet the phenomenon represents much more than a singluar economic debacle and case of bungled government policy decisions. Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s presents an accessible and comprehensive examination of the causes of the Japanese housing and stock bubble in the late 1980s and the socio-political consequences of the ensuing implosion of asset values. Jeff Kingston reveals that although the Japanese economy now remains mired in recession, and the government is seemingly adrift, the apparent stagnation is misleading. He shows how the discrediting of the Japan, Inc. model has lead to significant policy reforms and transformative social change - most apparent in the dramatic political victory of the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009, but also in myriad other ways. Kingston also addresses many other challenges faced by contemporary Japan, including the implications of growing risk, its aging society, environmental issues, immigration policies, and neo-liberal reforms, while elucidating how traditional institutions such as the imperial family and 'yakuza' criminal gangs are responding. Contemporary Japan offers deep and probing insights into the turmoil in Japan since the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989 through to the present day.
"One of the foremost foreign writers on modern Japan, Kingston provides another wide-ranging analysis of interest to all of those with a stake in the nation's future." The Japan Times
"Kingston's discussion of the changes Japan faces in the 21st century is among the most comprehensive and accessible treatments of Japan's recent history available." Choice
Building on his previous examinations, Kingston (Japan's Quiet Transformation; Japan in Transformation) divides this incisive contemporary portrait into five essay-style chapters, emphasizing the menace rampant in Japanese culture through inspection of the sharp rise in familial abuse cases, the imminent demise of stabilizing traditions, and the increase in gang activity. Also included is an essential consideration of the factors contributing to the underreported but decisive 2009 political ascension of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). As the most current and definitive topic analysis available, this accessible and engaging study is highly recommended for both political science and Asia-focused collections.
Jeff Kingston is Professor of History and Director of Asian Studies at the Japan Campus of Temple University. He has written widely on modern Japanese history and Japan’s relations with Asia, including the books Japan in Transformation 1952–2000 (2001) and Japan’s Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the 21st Century (2004). He has also edited Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan (2012). With academic interests that include a broader regional purview, he contributes to a variety of major publications and is regularly interviewed by global media outlets.