The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation

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Papermac, 1990 - Japan - 504 pages
Portraying the Japanese in a different light, this book argues that Westerners have failed to understand the true nature of Japanese power and raises fundamental questions about Japanese attitudes and the nature of Japanese society.

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User Review  - antiquary - LibraryThing

While the author seems biased by his own negative experiences as a foreigner trying to work in Japanese media, his severe critique of the weakness of Japanese leadership has been confirmed by events to a considerable degree. Read full review

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A difficult read - long, dense, and really, really small font. Lots of names are dropped, and scandals used to illustrate points, which are blunted if you aren't already familiar with the names or the scandals. Still, it does attempt to cover immense amounts of history, geography, culture, and politics, for an extremely inscrutable country. Does an impressive job of demonstrating the lack of center to Japanese politics, even while undercutting its own points to a certain extent. For instance, is Japan really a culture of conciliation and consensus as it is portrayed, or a culture of paralysis and mutual-restriction? Several of van Wolferen's examples can be read as either. It would be very interesting to see an updated version after the economic bubble popped. 

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