Cover image for The Japanese today : change and continuity
The Japanese today : change and continuity
Reischauer, Edwin O. (Edwin Oldfather), 1910-1990.
Physical Description:
viii, 426 pages : illustrations, portraits, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: The Japanese. 1977.

Includes index.
Geographic Term:
Format :

On Order



With the two-thousand-year history of the Japanese experience as his foundation, Edwin O. Reischauer brings us an incomparable description of Japan today in all its complexity and uniqueness, both material and spiritual. His description and analysis present us with the paradox that is present-day Japan: thoroughly international, depending for its livelihood almost entirely on foreign trade, its products coveted everywhere--yet not entirely liked or trusted, still feared for its past military adventurism and for its current economic aggressiveness. Reischauer begins with the rich heritage of the island nation, identifying incidents and trends that have significantly affected Japan's modern development. Much of the geographic and historical material on Japan's earlier years is drawn from his renowned study The Japanese, but the present book deepens and broadens that earlier interpretation: our knowledge of Japan has increased enormously in the intervening decade and our attitudes have become more ambivalent, while Japan too has changed, often not so subtly. Moving to contemporary Japanese society, Reischauer explores both the constants in Japanese life and the aspects that are rapidly changing. In the section on government and politics he gives pithy descriptions of the formal workings of the various organs of government and the decision-making process, as well as the most contentious issues in Japanese life-pollution, nuclear power, organized labor-and the elusive matter of political style. In what will become classic statements on business management and organization, Reischauer sketches the early background of trade and commerce in Japan, contrasts the struggling prewar economy with today's assertive manufacturing, and brilliantly characterizes the remarkable postwar economic miracle of Japanese heavy industry, consumer product development, and money management. In a final section, "Japan and the World' he attempts to explain to skeptical Westerners that country's growing and painful dilemma between neutrality and alignment, between trade imbalance and "fair" practices, and the ever-vexing issue of that embodiment of Japanese specialness, a unique and difficult language that affects personal and national behavior.

Author Notes

Edwin O. Reischauer was born in Japan in 1910, the son of Protestant educational-missionary parents, founders of Japan's first school for the deaf. After being educated in Japanese and American schools, he received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1931 and his M.A. from Harvard in 1932. Four years later he received a Ph.D. in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard. In 1938 he joined the faculty at Harvard, where he rose to the position of professor and acted for an extensive period as director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. His academic career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, and he held civilian posts first in the War Department and later in the Department of State. In 1961 he again took leave from Harvard to accept a position for which he had been hand-picked by President John F. Kennedy---ambassador to Japan. The Japanese accepted him as one of their own; one editorial writer welcomed him by writing that he was well informed about Japan, "having no equal among foreigners on that point." Another remarked how satisfying it would be to "write an editorial and know that the American Ambassador will actually be able to read it." Reischauer was a prolific writer and an energetic speaker who saw his role as introducing Japan to America. In his writings and in his activities in other media such as film, he was committed to reaching as broad an audience as possible. At Harvard he led in training the first generation of true American scholars of Japan. As U.S. ambassador to Japan, however, his role became reversed as he sought to educate Japanese about America and Americans. In the wake of the war in the Pacific, Reischauer hoped to show Americans and Japanese that the two countries could and should be close allies and friends. His assessment of Japan's history emphasized the nonrevolutionary character of its modern history and its outward-looking development. In his view Japanese war and aggression were aberrations in a long emerging liberal tradition. His positivist interpretation has been a leading influence in defining America's postwar vision of Japan. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In a follow-up to his study of Japanese society, The Japanese (Booklist 73:1393 My 15 77), Reischauer has retained much of that book's purely historical material, completely rewritten some chapters, and introduced new topics in a further investigation that reflects changes not so much in Japan itself as in the way it is perceived by the outside world. Economic influences receive the most attention as the author devotes an entire section of five chapters to ways in which business and management have been affected by the Japanese example. As before, Reischauer's treatment emphasizes the country's dichotomy as it has enthusiastically entered the international scene but has retained its national character of separation and isolation. Bibliography; index. JB. 952 Japan (CIP) 87-14904

Library Journal Review

A revised edition of The Japanese (1977; 1981) by eminent Japan scholar Reischauer. As before, the text begins with a sketch of Japanese history and society, with more, mostly new illustrations. A new section has been added on business, which provides useful criticisms and explanations of the often resented Japanese economic success. The last section, ``Japan and the World,'' expands on the themes developed in the earlier book on the continuing difficulties the Japanese have in their relationships with other peoples. An excellent survey for undergraduates and general readers. Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Setting
1 The Land
2 Agriculture and Natural Resources
3 Isolation
Part 2 Historical Background
4 Early Japan
5 Feudalism
6 Centralized Feudalism
7 The Meiji Restoration
8 The Constitutional System
9 The Militarist Reaction
10 The Occupation Reforms
11 Post-Occupation Japan
Part 3 Society
12 Diversity and Change
13 The Group
14 Relativism
15 Hierarchy
16 The Individual
17 Women 18. Education
19 Religion
20 Mass Culture
Part 4 Government and Politics
21 The Political Heritage
22 The Emperor
23 The Diet
24 Other Organs of Government
25 Elections
26 Political Parties
27 The Decision-Making Process
28 Issues
29 Political Style
Part 5 Business
30 The Premodern Background
31 The Prewar Economy
32 The Postwar Economy
33 The Employment System
34 Business Organization
Part6 Japan and the World
35 The Prewar Record
36 Neutrality versus Alignment
37 Trade and Economic Dependence
38 Language
39 Uniqueness and Internationalism
40 Japan TodayMarius B. Jansen
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