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In Japan and the Shackles of the Past, R. Taggart Murphy places the current troubles of Japan in a sweeping historical context, moving deftly from early feudal times to the Tokagawa era and finally to the modern age that began with the Meiji Restoration. Combining fascinating analyses of Japanese culture and society over the centuries with hard-headed accounts of Japan's numerous political regimes, Murphy not only reshapes our understanding of Japanese history, but of Japan's place in the contemporary world. He concedes that Japan has indeed been out of sight and out of mind in recent decades, but he contends that this is already changing. Political and economic developments in Japan today risk upheaval in the pivotal arena of Northeast Asia; Murphy argues that parallels with Europe on the eve of the First World War are not misplaced. America's half-completed effort to remake Japan in the late 1940s is unraveling, and the American foreign policy and defense establishment is directly culpable for what has happened. The one apparent exception to Japan's malaise is the vitality of its pop culture, but it's actually no exception at all; rather, it provides critical clues to what is going on now.
Murphy shares insights into everything from Japan's politics and economics to the texture of daily life, gender relations, the changing business landscape, and both popular and high culture. He places particular emphasis on the story of the fraught, quasi-pathological relationship between the United States and Japan, arguing that it is central to understanding Japan today--and to the prospects for continued American global hegemony.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Does Japan Still Matter?
Part One: Past
Chapter One: Japan Before the Edo Period
Chapter Two: The Incubation of the Modern Japanese State
Chapter Three: Restoration to Occupation
Chapter Four: The Miracle
Chapter Five: The Institutions of High-speed Growth
Chapter Six: Consequences (Intended and Otherwise)
Part Two: Present
Chapter Seven: Economy and Finance
Chapter Eight: Business
Chapter Nine: Social and Cultural Change
Chapter Ten: Politics
Chapter Eleven: Japan and the World
Suggestions for Further Reading