Understanding Japanese Society

Understanding Japanese Society

Understanding Japanese Society

Understanding Japanese Society

Synopsis

This is a welcome new edition of this bestselling textbook. It provides a clear, accessible and readable introduction to Japanese society which does not require any previous knowledge of the country. Fully updated, revised and expanded, the 3rd edition contains new material on:¿ the effects of the Asian crisis and recession in Japan¿ the emergence of the millennial cults such as the Aum Shinrikyo¿ major advances in sport and leisure such as the 2002 World Cup and the amazing global cultural success of Pokemon and Japanese animation and computer games¿ the tumultuous changes of the Japanese ruling elite¿ the Ainu and other Japanese minorities¿ debates about the future of the Japanese constitution and the resurgence of nationalism and militarism.

Excerpt

World news at the beginning of 2003 is dominated by the prospect of an American-led invasion of Iraq. North Korea is also targeted as the only non-Islamic member of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’. In some ways North Korea - and policy towards it - represents an even greater potential danger to international order than does the situation over Iraq. Even though the North Korean economy is decrepit and broken down, its military could inflict massive destruction on Seoul, home to more than a quarter of the South Korean population and to 37,000 US troops. Japan is also within range of Pyongyang’s rockets. The North Korean Government is practised in the art of countering threats with extreme behaviour. Even though this may be a ‘hedgehog’ reaction, its willingness to break international agreements over nuclear matters prompts grave concern. The South Korean Government sensibly pursues policies of engagement with the North, aiming to tempt North Korea out of its isolation and intransi-gence, and into the modern world. Despite mixed messages, there are some signs that the regime in the North would like to modernise, and that its nuclear bluster is aimed at winning external guarantees of security and of regime survival.

For Japan, the Korean situation represents a crucial test of foreign policy. The one-day visit to Pyongyang on 17th September 2002 by the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Koizumi, had mixed results. Japan and North Korea signed an important joint statement, but further progress was frustrated by the issue of Japanese citizens spirited away to North Korea several years before. Later North Korean admissions about their nuclear development in breach of international agreements made further Japanese initiatives even more diffcult.

A challenge to Japan of a different kind is provided by two related developments. One is the rapid economic growth of the People’s Republic of China (or at least its coastal regions), and the success of Chinese exports to Japan. The other is the continued failure of economic policy to solve the . . .

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