This volume focuses on an often misunderstood nation with vast economic and cultural influence in the United States and around the world. It combines thoroughly up-to-date coverage of Japan's history, geography, politics, economics, and society, with a range of helpful reference tools.

Delving deeper than typical reference books, Asia in Focus: Japan is the ideal authoritative introduction to Japanese life for students, businesspeople, travelers, and other interested readers. The volume offers a contemporary look at the Japanese economy, extensive cultural coverage, and a rich collection of photographs. This resource also dispels long-running stereotypes and misconceptions to show Japan's surprising diversity and creativity.


It is my hope that Asia in Focus: Japan will be an informative and useful introduction for American readers to one of the world’s most important countries. Currently, the rise of two other important Asian countries, the People’s Republic of China and India, seem to have diverted many Americans’ attentions from Japan. Although I would be the last to argue that Americans shouldn’t better understand both of these nations, knowledge of Japan remains crucial for American global literacy for at least three reasons.

Japan remains the world’s second-largest economy in terms of GDP, and Japan and the United States are heavily invested in each other’s well-being. Millions of Americans and Japanese earn their livelihoods from one of the world’s most extensive economic relationships.

Japan is also crucial to the United States because it has been a staunch ally since the end of World War II. In recent years, Japan has supported the United States in several ways in the global struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. Japan’s geographical location in Northeast Asia near some of the world’s most critical hot spots makes the bilateral political relationship vital for the continued peaceful existence of not only Americans and Japanese but many other peoples as well.

In a world made increasingly smaller through technology, it is also important that Americans become more knowledgeable of the significant accomplishments of such non-Western cultures as Japan. Anyone who presumes to have a basic education in the 21st century should be familiar with The Tale of Genji, haiku, Japanese gardens, Zen, and other important elements of Japan’s traditional culture. For at least a decade and a half, Japanese popular culture has been a particular favorite with . . .

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