Endō Shūsaku: A Literature of Reconciliation

Endō Shūsaku: A Literature of Reconciliation

Endō Shūsaku: A Literature of Reconciliation

Endō Shūsaku: A Literature of Reconciliation

Synopsis

The author takes a focused look at the complex work of Japanese novelist, Endo Shusaku, placing him in his own political and cultural context. He examines the philosophy of reconciliation between opposites that is at the core of much of Endo's work.

Excerpt

Japan, as the new century approaches, is going through a turbulent period, in which some of her most entrenched institutions and practices are being increasingly questioned. The financial crisis which began in the latter half of 1997—but whose origins go back several years earlier—gravely affected Japan, as well as other Asian countries. Quite apart from the economic and political implications of recession, widespread bankruptcies, increasing unemployment and a falling yen, the crisis was having a considerable impact on the psychology of ordinary Japanese people. They had been accustomed to steadily increasing prosperity and the international respect generated by the successes of their politico-economic model. Now, however, they were coming to wonder whether attitudes and ways of doing things that had been central to their outlook over several decades were still appropriate to the disturbingly unstable world in which they now found themselves. One straw in the wind was a hugely popular soap opera aired on Fuji Television in the spring of 1998, entitled Shōmu 2 (General Affairs Section 2), in which a group of women office workers egotistically assert their rights as individuals and challenge time-honoured working practices. By challenging the prevailing atmosphere of inefficiency, refusal to face up to responsibilities, conformity, sexual harassment of women and mindless deference to hierarchy, this feisty group of ‘office ladies’ succeed in saving the company from bankruptcy.

However much of a caricature the Fuji TV soap opera may be, it is symptomatic of a spreading sense that all is not right in what used to be seen as an unbeatable set of methods for running society. Grave though the crisis being faced by Japan was as the century approaches its close, the impressive human and material resources that the country is still able to command are advantageous in the struggle to overcome the crisis. Whatever might be the outcome at

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