Japan and the Shackles of the Past

Overview


Japan is one of the world's wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations, and its rapid ascent to global power status after 1853 remains one of the most remarkable stories in modern world history. Yet it has not been an easy path; military catastrophe, political atrophy, and economic dysfunction have made regular appearances from the feudal era to the present. A quarter-century ago, Tokyo's stock exchange was even bigger than New York's, and the Japanese industrial juggernaut was thought to be ...
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Overview


Japan is one of the world's wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations, and its rapid ascent to global power status after 1853 remains one of the most remarkable stories in modern world history. Yet it has not been an easy path; military catastrophe, political atrophy, and economic dysfunction have made regular appearances from the feudal era to the present. A quarter-century ago, Tokyo's stock exchange was even bigger than New York's, and the Japanese industrial juggernaut was thought to be unsurpassable. Now, Japan is seen as a has-been with a sluggish economy, an aging population, dysfunctional politics, and a business landscape dominated by yesterday's champions. Though it is supposed to be America's strongest ally in the Asia-Pacific region, it has almost entirely disappeared from the American radar screen.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199845989
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2014
  • Pages: 464

Meet the Author

R. Taggart Murphy is Professor and Program Chair of the MBA Program in International Business at the Tokyo campus of the University of Tsukuba. He is the author of award-winning books on modern Japan and a number of articles in publications from The New Republic to the National Interest and The New Left Review. A former investment banker, he has also taught at the university's main campus, was a Non-Resident Senior Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and is a coordinator of the web's leading clearing-house for serious writing on Japan, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

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

Notes

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