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The Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present

The Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In The Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Andrew Gordon paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. He takes students from the days of the shogunate--the feudal overlordship of the Tokugawa family--through the modernizing revolution launched by midlevel samurai in the late nineteenth century; the adoption of Western hairstyles, clothing, and military organization; and the nation's first experiments with mass democracy after World War I. Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster. But the true ingenuity and value of Gordon's approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here students will see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. The book examines Japan's struggles to define the meaning of its modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most importantly, it illuminates the interconnectedness of Japanese developments with world history, demonstrating how Japan's historical passage represents a variation of a process experienced by many nations and showing how the Japanese narrative forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history.

With a sustained focus on setting modern Japan in a comparative and global context, The Modern History of Japan is ideal for undergraduate courses in modern Japanese history, Japanese politics, Japanese society, or Japanese culture.


This text covers Japanese history from approximately 1800 - the last decades of rule by the military lords of the Tokugawa family - to the start of the 21st century. It begins when a crisis-ridden political and social order intersected with fast emerging Euro-American power.

About the Author

Andrew Gordon is Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Professor of History at Harvard University. His books include The Wages of Affluence, Postwar Japan as History (editor), and Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Enduring Imprints of the Longer Past


1. The Tokugawa Polity


The Tokugawa Political Settlements

The Daimyo

The Imperial Institution

The Samurai

Villagers and City-Dwellers

The Margins of the Japanese and Japan

2. Social and Economic Transformations

The Seventeenth-Century Boom

Riddles of Stagnation and Vitality

3. The Intellectual World of Late Tokugawa

Ideological Foundations of the Tokugawa Regime

Cultural Diversity and Contradictions

Reform, Critiques, and Insurgent Ideas

4. The Overthrow of the Tokugawa

The Western Powers and the Unequal Treaties

The Crumbling of Tokugawa Rule

Politics of Terror and Accommodation

Bakufu Revival, the Satsuma-Choshu Insurgency, and Domestic Unrest


5. The Samurai Revolution

Programs of Nationalist Revolution

Political Unification and Central Bureaucracy

Eliminating the Status System

The Conscript Army

Compulsory Education

The Monarch at the Center

Building a Rich Country

Stances toward the World

6. Participation and Protest

Political Discourse and Contention

Movement for Freedom and People's Rights

Samurai Rebellions, Peasant Uprisings, and New Religions

Participation for Women

Treaty Revision and Domestic Politics

The Meiji Constitution

7. Social, Economic, and Cultural Transformations

Landlords and Tenants

Industrial Revolution

The Work Force and Labor Conditions

Spread of Mass and Higher Education

Culture and Religion

Affirmations of Japanese Identity and Destiny

8. Empire and Domestic Order

The Trajectory to Empire

Contexts of Empire, Capitalism, and Nation-Building

The Turbulent World of Diet Politics

The Era of Popular Protest

Engineering Nationalism


9. Economy and Society

Wartime Boom and Postwar Bust

Landlords, Tenants, and Rural Life

City Life: Middle and Working Classes

Cultural Responses to Social Change

10. Democracy and Empire between the World Wars

The Emergence of Party Cabinets

The Structure of Parliamentary Government

Ideological Challenges

Strategies of Imperial Democratic Rule

Japan, Asia, and the Western Powers

11. The Depression Crisis and Responses

Economic and Social Crisis

Breaking the Impasse: New Departures Abroad

Toward a New Social and Economic Order

Toward a New Political Order

12. Japan in Wartime

Wider War in China

Toward Pearl Harbor

The Pacific War

Mobilizing for Total War

Living in the Shadow of War

Ending the War

Burdens and Legacies of War

13. Occupied Japan: New Departures and Durable Structures

Bearing the Unbearable

The American Agenda: Demilitarize and Democratize

Japanese Responses

The Reverse Course

Toward Recovery and Independence: Another Unequal Treaty?


14. Economic and Social Transformation

The Postwar "Economic Miracle"

Transwar Patterns of Community, Family, School, and Work

Shared Experiences and Standardized Lifeways of the Postwar Era

Differences Enduring and Realigned

Managing Social Stability and Change

Images and Ideologies of Social Stability and Change

15. Political Struggles and Settlements of the High-Growth Era

Political Struggles

The Politics of Accommodation

Global Connections: Oil Crisis and the End of High Growth

16. Global Power in a Polarized World: Japan in the 1980s

New Roles in the World and New Tensions

Economy: Thriving through the Oil Crises

Politics: The Conservative Heyday

Society and Culture in the Exuberant Eighties

17. Beyond the Postwar Era

The End of Showa and the Transformation of the Symbol Monarchy

The End of LDP Hegemony

The Economic Bubble Bursts

The Japanese Disease at Century's End?

Issues for the Future

Appendix A. Prime Ministers of Japan, 1885-2001

Appendix B. Vote Totals and Seats by Party, 1945-2000 Lower House Elections

Product Details

From Tokugawa Times to the Present
Oxford University Press
Gordon, Andrew
null, Andrew
New York
Asia - Japan
History, World | Asian
Series Volume:
v. 34
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
56 halftones , maps, &, line illus
6.1 x 9.1 x 1.1 in 1.263 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Asia » Japan » General
History and Social Science » World History » Japan

The Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
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Product details 400 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195110616 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This text covers Japanese history from approximately 1800 - the last decades of rule by the military lords of the Tokugawa family - to the start of the 21st century. It begins when a crisis-ridden political and social order intersected with fast emerging Euro-American power.
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