Japanese Today: Change and Continuity / Edition 1

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Overview

With the two-thousand-year history of the Japanese experience as his foundation, Edwin O. Reischauer brings us an incomparable description of Japan today in all its complexity and uniqueness, both material and spiritual. His description and analysis present us with the paradox that is present-day Japan: thoroughly international, depending for its livelihood almost entirely on foreign trade, its products coveted everywhere--yet not entirely liked or trusted, still feared for its past military adventurism and for its current economic aggressiveness.

Reischauer begins with the rich heritage of the island nation, identifying incidents and trends that have significantly affected Japan's modern development. Much of the geographic and historical material on Japan's earlier years is drawn from his renowned study The Japanese, but the present book deepens and broadens that earlier interpretation: our knowledge of Japan has increased enormously in the intervening decade and our attitudes have become more ambivalent, while Japan too has changed, often not so subtly.

Moving to contemporary Japanese society, Reischauer explores both the constants in Japanese life and the aspects that are rapidly changing. In the section on government and politics he gives pithy descriptions of the formal workings of the various organs of government and the decision-making process, as well as the most contentious issues in Japanese life-pollution, nuclear power, organized labor-and the elusive matter of political style.

In what will become classic statements on business management and organization, Reischauer sketches the early background of trade and commerce in Japan, contrasts the struggling prewar economy with today's assertive manufacturing, and brilliantly characterizes the remarkable postwar economic miracle of Japanese heavy industry, consumer product development, and money management. In a final section, "Japan and the World' he attempts to explain to skeptical Westerners that country's growing and painful dilemma between neutrality and alignment, between trade imbalance and "fair" practices, and the ever-vexing issue of that embodiment of Japanese specialness, a unique and difficult language that affects personal and national behavior.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times

Praise for the first edition:

Edwin Reischauer displays a novelist's sensitivity in this thorough overview, managing to explain the paradoxes of Japan without diminishing the sense of mystery...The Japanese Today offers the broadest available overview of the world's third greatest economic power, sagaciously exploring politics, history, religion, and education.

Japan Times

[Reischauer] is one of few Westerners who knows so well the social, cultural, political, and economic developments of Japanese society.
— Badar A. Iqbal

Washington Post Book World

For many years Americans headed for careers in Japan have been preparing themselves with the books of Edwin O. Reischauer. Few people know the subject better than he.
— John Burgess

London Sunday Times

Born and brought up in Japan and, in the 1960s, American ambassador to Tokyo, [Reischauer] is well placed to analyze the special qualities of a people who down the years have fluctuated between self-deprecation and an almost cosmic arrogance, and who now seem poised to achieve dominance over the global economy.
— Alexander MacLeod

Japan Times - Badar A. Iqbal
[Reischauer] is one of few Westerners who knows so well the social, cultural, political, and economic developments of Japanese society.
Washington Post Book World - John Burgess
For many years Americans headed for careers in Japan have been preparing themselves with the books of Edwin O. Reischauer. Few people know the subject better than he.
London Sunday Times - Alexander Macleod
Born and brought up in Japan and, in the 1960s, American ambassador to Tokyo, [Reischauer] is well placed to analyze the special qualities of a people who down the years have fluctuated between self-deprecation and an almost cosmic arrogance, and who now seem poised to achieve dominance over the global economy.
Los Angeles Times
Praise for the first edition:

Edwin Reischauer displays a novelist's sensitivity in this thorough overview, managing to explain the paradoxes of Japan without diminishing the sense of mystery...The Japanese Today offers the broadest available overview of the world's third greatest economic power, sagaciously exploring politics, history, religion, and education.

London Sunday Times
Born and brought up in Japan and, in the 1960s, American ambassador to Tokyo, [Reischauer] is well placed to analyze the special qualities of a people who down the years have fluctuated between self-deprecation and an almost cosmic arrogance, and who now seem poised to achieve dominance over the global economy.
— Alexander MacLeod
Washington Post Book World
For many years Americans headed for careers in Japan have been preparing themselves with the books of Edwin O. Reischauer. Few people know the subject better than he.
— John Burgess
Japan Times
[Reischauer] is one of few Westerners who knows so well the social, cultural, political, and economic developments of Japanese society.
— Badar A. Iqbal
Library Journal
A leading scholar on Japan updates Reischauer's classic (LJ 1/88).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674471849
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: Enlarged Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 438
  • Sales rank: 711,359
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Marius B. Jansen was Professor of Japanese History at Princeton University. He was the author of Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.
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Table of Contents

PART ONE The Setting

1. The Land

2. Agriculture and Natural Resources

3. Isolation

PART TWO Historical Background

4 Early Japan

5. Feudalism

6. Centralized Feudalism

7. The Meiji Restoration

8. The Constitutional System

9. The Militarist Reaction

10. The Occupation Reforms

11. Post-Occupation Japan

PART THREE Society

12. Diversity and Change

13. The Group

14. Relativism

15. Hierarchy

16. The Individual

17. Women

18. Education

19. Religion

20. Mass Culture

PART FOUR Government and Politics

21 The Political Heritage

22. The Emperor

23. The Diet

24. Other Organs of Government

25. Elections

26. Political Parties

27. The Decision-Making Process

28. Issues

29 Political Style

PART FIVE Business

30. The Premodern Background

31. The Prewar Economy

32. The Postwar Economy

33. The Employment System

34. Business Organization

PART SIX Japan and the World

35. The Prewar Record

36. Neutrality versus Alignment

37. Trade and Economic Dependence

38. Language

39. Uniqueness and Internationalism

40. Japan Today by Marius B. Jansen

Suggested Reading

Index

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