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Japan: A Reinterpretationby Patrick Smith
Synopses & Reviews
The Japanese are in the process of re-creating themselves--an endeavor they have undertaken at intervals throughout history, always prompted by a combination of domestic and global forces. In this landmark book, Patrick Smith asserts that a variety of forces--the achievement of material affluence, the Cold War's end, and the death of Emperor Hirohito--are now spurring Japan once again toward a fundamental redefinition of itself.
As Smith argues, this requires of the West an equally thorough reevaluation of the picture we have held of Japan over the past half-century. He reveals how economic overdevelopment conceals profound political, social, and psychological under-development. And by refocusing on "internal history" and the Japanese character, Smith offers a new framework for understanding Japan and the Japanese as they really are. The Japanese, he says, are now seeking to alter the very thing we believe distinguishes them: the relationship between the individual and society.
Timely, measured, and authoritative, this book illuminates a new Japan, a nation preparing to drop the mask it holds up to the West and to steer a course of its own in the world.
Jacket image: The Great Wave of Kanagawa, from 36 Views of Mount Fuji (detail) by Katsushika Hokusai. Private collection.
A landmark book that re-evaluates the picture we have held of Japan over the past half century — as a virtual American protectorate — by examining its culture, customs, history, and the probable shape of its future.
With exceptional acuity, Patrick Smith traces the ways in which, after World War II, the United States created an image of Japan as political, economic, and cultural emulator. He explores Japan's overnight conversion to democracy, its adoption of an American-written constitution, its compliance with loathed American governmental policy, our tolerance of Japan's protectionism to ensure its neutrality, and the propaganda created to convince Americans that the Japan we had "created" was the true Japan. Smith also reveals how Japan's economic over-development conceals profound political and social underdevelopment, and how American capitalism and democracy are only two of many social systems that Japan has successfully appropriated for its own use.
Timely, measured, and authoritative, this book is a revelation of Japan's protean position in world affairs — in the recent past, and in the foreseeable future.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 354-372) and index.
About the Author
Patrick Smith has worked as an editor and correspondent for more than twenty years (fourteen of them in Asia) with, among other publications, the New York Times, the Financial Times of London, the International Herald Tribune, and The New Yorker. He is the author of The Nippon Challenge: Japan's Pursuit of the Americas Cup. He lives in Norfolk, Connecticut.
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