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Japan Unbound: A Volatile Nation's Quest for Pride and Purpose

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Japan Unbound: A Volatile Nation's Quest for Pride and Purpose Cover

ISBN13: 9780618138944
ISBN10: 0618138943
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Not since World War II has Japan faced a crisis like the one before it now. A decade-long economic tumble has unraveled traditional social ties. Nationalist pride and bigotry are extolled by TV stars — and by the new governor of Tokyo prefecture. High culture languishes while comic book versions of the classics dominate bestseller lists. A panoply of bizarre role-playing clubs thrive on the new obsession with violating taboos. And this upheaval has significant ramifications for America. As the Japanese reject their traditions wholesale, they view their half-century-old connection to the United States with mounting antagonism.

Drawing on his fluent Japanese and unmatched intimacy with the culture, John Nathan explores a nascent Japan through a tapestry of portraits of individuals and institutions in crisis. Sea changes in business are augured by Carlos Ghosn, the Brazilian president of Nissan, once scorned as an outsider, now hailed for reviving a moribund giant. Nathan unveils the horrors of the Japanese school system and highlights the jingoistic extremes of its politics. He also takes the pulse of Japan's ordinary citizens, who are caught up in the country's profound societal shifts: the prevalence of comic books, feminism, the consumerism of teenage girls, and more.

Review:

"Up-to-date and written in a clear, conversational style, this fascinating and articulate look at contemporary Japan will intrigue readers of all persuasions." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[Nathan's] extensive reportage, combined with an understanding of Japanese culture gained from his years as a student, gives an insightful study of a culture little understood in the United States." The New York Times

Review:

"An alarmist treatise, as American analysis of Japan tends to be. But worth considering, especially as the hold of the pro-US government weakens and Chinese power grows." Kirkus Reviews

Book News Annotation:

Nathan (Japanese cultural studies, U. of California-Santa Barbara) charts changes in Japanese life and culture since the end of World War II. Among them are bewildered children, the family crisis, the culture of arithmetic, the entrepreneurs, and the new institutionalism. He concludes that though the economy has stalled, the society is in motion.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

"The scary thing about this country," [Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, said] "is that our politicians don't have to say anything to succeed. When Noboru Takeshita was prime minister, his advice to me was 'lucid words, meaning unclear.' In this country, it's best to be mysterious; voters think that means there's something meaningful deeper down." Ishihara has never been mysterious. He is an outspoken nationalist who rails against the government. He claims that fifty years of subservience to the interests of the United States have deprived the Japanese of a national purpose and engendered a paralyzing identity crisis. And he reminds his countrymen that theirs is the only non-Caucasian society to have created a modern superpower. His enemies call him a demagogue and a racist, but his defiance resonates with the current mood of the country.

Synopsis:

Not since World War II has Japan faced a crisis like the one before it now. An apparently endless recession has weakened the foundations of the traditional family and severed the bond between Japan's corporations and employees. Unruly children turn classrooms into battlefields. Ultranationalist pride and xenophobia are celebrated in best-selling comic books and championed by media superstars, including the governor of Tokyo. Upheavals across the society have significant ramifications for America. As the Japanese reject their traditions wholesale, they view their half-century-old connection to the United States with mounting skepticism.

Drawing on his fluent Japanese and unmatched intimacy with the culture, John Nathan reveals a nation newly unmoored from the traditions that have shored it up and sometimes stifled it. Dramatic changes in business are augured by Carlos Ghosn, the Brazilian president of Nissan, once scorned as an outsider, now hailed for reviving a moribund giant. The soft-spoken artist Yoshinori Kobayashi foments and reflects rabid nationalism among millions with his hugely popular comic books. Yasuo Tanaka, a puckish writer and bon vivant, wins the governorship of Nagano and revolutionizes Japanese politics with his radical populism.

Nathan delves beyond Japan's celebrities to map the epic shifts in daily life. He unveils the horrors of the Japanese school system. He goes inside a "career transition service" to witness the novel, nuanced rituals of job-hunting Japanese-style. He takes the pulse of ordinary citizens who are caught up in the country's many profound social shifts: agitprop pop culture, emerging feminism, environmentalism, teenage consumerism, entrepreneurship, and more.

With immediacy and élan, John Nathan dispels conventional wisdom about Japan and replaces it with a brilliant vision of a country roiling with pride, uncertainty, creativity, fear, and hope.

About the Author

John Nathan, the Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of a definitive biography of the novelist Yukio Mishima and has translated the novels of both Mishima and the Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe into English. He is alsoan Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. John Nathanlives in Santa Barbara, California.

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction 1 1. Monsters in the House: Japans Bewildered Children 25 2. The Family Crisis 45 3. The Culture of Arithmetic 71 4. The Entrepreneurs 99 5. In Search of a Phantom 119 6. The New Nationalism II: Institutionalizing Tradition 139 7. Shintaro Ishihara: The Sun King 169 8. Yasuo Tanaka: The Trickster 203 Epilogue: Outgrowing Adolescence 231 Sources 255 Index 259 Acknowledgments 273

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

ibuchan7104, February 28, 2010 (view all comments by ibuchan7104)
John Nathan's Japan Unbound is a very interesting read for anyone who is interested about Japan in general. Nathan's main argument is that the Japanese people have been having an identity crisis since the bubble popped and their postwar prosperity came to a halt. This identity crisis has led to a rise in youth crime, unhappy laid off workers, and extreme nationalism to try to fill the gap. Nathan's literary background comes out clear in his lucid writing and interesting antecdotes, but the political economist in me wants more than a cultural argument to account for the changing environment in Japan. Still, this is a must read for anyone interested in Japan, and I would also highly reccomend you read his very well done translations of works by Oe Kenzaburo and Yukio Mishima.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780618138944
Author:
Nathan, John
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author:
Nathan, John
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Non-Classifiable
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Asia - Japan
Subject:
Japan
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
Government - International
Subject:
Japan Civilization 1945-
Subject:
World History-Japan
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
108-13
Publication Date:
February 2004
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 1.17 lb

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Related Subjects

» History and Social Science » Asia » Japan » Contemporary 1945 to Present
» History and Social Science » Asia » Japan » General
» History and Social Science » World History » Japan

Japan Unbound: A Volatile Nation's Quest for Pride and Purpose Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618138944 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Up-to-date and written in a clear, conversational style, this fascinating and articulate look at contemporary Japan will intrigue readers of all persuasions."
"Review" by , "[Nathan's] extensive reportage, combined with an understanding of Japanese culture gained from his years as a student, gives an insightful study of a culture little understood in the United States."
"Review" by , "An alarmist treatise, as American analysis of Japan tends to be. But worth considering, especially as the hold of the pro-US government weakens and Chinese power grows."
"Synopsis" by , "The scary thing about this country," [Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, said] "is that our politicians don't have to say anything to succeed. When Noboru Takeshita was prime minister, his advice to me was 'lucid words, meaning unclear.' In this country, it's best to be mysterious; voters think that means there's something meaningful deeper down." Ishihara has never been mysterious. He is an outspoken nationalist who rails against the government. He claims that fifty years of subservience to the interests of the United States have deprived the Japanese of a national purpose and engendered a paralyzing identity crisis. And he reminds his countrymen that theirs is the only non-Caucasian society to have created a modern superpower. His enemies call him a demagogue and a racist, but his defiance resonates with the current mood of the country.
"Synopsis" by ,
Not since World War II has Japan faced a crisis like the one before it now. An apparently endless recession has weakened the foundations of the traditional family and severed the bond between Japan's corporations and employees. Unruly children turn classrooms into battlefields. Ultranationalist pride and xenophobia are celebrated in best-selling comic books and championed by media superstars, including the governor of Tokyo. Upheavals across the society have significant ramifications for America. As the Japanese reject their traditions wholesale, they view their half-century-old connection to the United States with mounting skepticism.

Drawing on his fluent Japanese and unmatched intimacy with the culture, John Nathan reveals a nation newly unmoored from the traditions that have shored it up and sometimes stifled it. Dramatic changes in business are augured by Carlos Ghosn, the Brazilian president of Nissan, once scorned as an outsider, now hailed for reviving a moribund giant. The soft-spoken artist Yoshinori Kobayashi foments and reflects rabid nationalism among millions with his hugely popular comic books. Yasuo Tanaka, a puckish writer and bon vivant, wins the governorship of Nagano and revolutionizes Japanese politics with his radical populism.

Nathan delves beyond Japan's celebrities to map the epic shifts in daily life. He unveils the horrors of the Japanese school system. He goes inside a "career transition service" to witness the novel, nuanced rituals of job-hunting Japanese-style. He takes the pulse of ordinary citizens who are caught up in the country's many profound social shifts: agitprop pop culture, emerging feminism, environmentalism, teenage consumerism, entrepreneurship, and more.

With immediacy and élan, John Nathan dispels conventional wisdom about Japan and replaces it with a brilliant vision of a country roiling with pride, uncertainty, creativity, fear, and hope.

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