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The Japan Society Review

The Japan Society Review is published on a bimonthly basis, both online and printed (members are entitled to receive a copy by post). Since the starting of the publication in 2006, each issue covers a selection of Japan-related books and films, as well as theatre and stage productions, tv series and exhibitions. Its purpose is to inform, entertain and encourage readers to explore the works for themselves.

The Japan Society Review is possible thanks to the work of volunteers who dedicated their time and expertise to help us to promote the learning and understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Japan Extolled and Decried Carl Peter Thunberg and the Shogun's Realm, 1775-1796

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Japan Extolled and Decried Carl Peter Thunberg and the Shogun's Realm, 1775-1796

Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi This edition makes available once again Thunberg’s extraordinary writings on Japan, complete with illustrations, a full introduction and annotations. Carl Peter Thunberg, pupil and successor of Linnaeus – of the great fathers of modern science – spent eighteen fascinating months in the notoriously inaccessible Japan in 1775-1776, and this is his story.

Representing the Other in Modern Japanese Literature: A Critical Approach

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Representing the Other in Modern Japanese Literature: A Critical Approach

Review by Suefen Tsai Representing the Other in Modern Japanese Literature looks at the ways in which authors writing in Japanese in the twentieth century constructed a division between the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’ in their work. Drawing on methodology from Foucault and Lacan, the clearly presented essays seek to show how Japanese writers have responded to the central question of what it means to be ‘Japanese’ and of how best to define their identity.

Administrative Reform in Japan

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Administrative Reform in Japan

Review by Sean Curtin To properly understand Japan's spectacular postwar economic transformation and its subsequent struggled to adjust in the post-bubble nineties, it is vital to grasp the administrative dynamics which uniquely underpinned its economic success and are determining its future. This book is an enlightening overview of the major administrative reforms spanning the early postwar years to the present day. It explains the significance of all the main changes that have shaped Japanese government and seeks to rank their individual importance.

Bernard Leach Life & Work

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Bernard Leach Life & Work

Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi Widely recognized as the father of studio pottery, Bernard Leach (1887-1979) played a pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters in Britain and around the world. Born in the East (Hong Kong) and educated in the West (England), throughout his life Leach perceived himself as a courier between the disparate cultures. His exquisite pots reflect the inspiration he drew from East and West as well as his response to the basic tenets of modernism-truth to materials, the importance of function to form, and simplicity of decoration. This outstanding biography provides for the first time a vivid and detailed account of Leach's life and its relation to his art.

Japan's Asian Policy: Revival and Response

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Japan's Asian Policy: Revival and Response

Review by Takahiro Miyao Crafting policy toward Asia is a difficult balancing act for Japan. Saddled by ill will in Asia left over from its militarist legacy of the first half of the twentieth century on the one hand and restrained by a United States eager to maintain its own position of power in Asia on the other, Japan has had to pick a narrow path. Its strong economic links to Asia have necessitated continuous and cordial relations with its Asian neighbors, and, as the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s revealed, those links keep Asia and Japan's fortunes tied closely together. This book gives a comprehensive account of Japan's Asian policy, its historical background and its current bilateral and regional interactions, as well as explores how those have changed or remained the same in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

Japan: The System That Soured

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Japan: The System That Soured

Review by Takahiro Miyao After seven long years of economic malaise, it is clear that something has gone awry in Japan. Unless Japan undertakes sweeping reform, official forecasts now warn, growth will steadily dwindle. How could the world's most acclaimed economic miracle have stumbled so badly? As this important book explains, the root of the problem is that Japan is still mired in the structures, policies, and mental habits of the 1950s-1960s.

Financial Markets and Policies in East Asia

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Financial Markets and Policies in East Asia

Review by Takahiro Miyao While the financial crisis in East Asia could be said to be on the wane in some countries, the reconstruction process in the aftermath and the debate about the financial policies best suited to the region still rages on. This book examines both of these processes in authoritative detail.

Japan's Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the 21st century

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Japan's Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the 21st century

Review by Sean Curtin The 1990s have been termed as 'Japan's lost decade' to describe how the phenomenal growth in the Japanese economy ground to a halt and the country was crippled by enormous and ongoing political, economic and social problems. In responding to these unprecedented difficulties, wide-ranging reforms have been adopted including NPO, information disclosure and judicial reform legislation. Controversially, this book argues that such reforms are creating a more robust civil society and demonstrate that Japan is far more dynamic than is generally recognized.

Issues and Options for U.S.-Japan Trade Policies

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Issues and Options for U.S.-Japan Trade Policies

Review by Takahiro Miyao Because of the close links between the United States and Japan in trade, foreign direct investment, financial flows, exchange rates, international prices, and government policies, it is important to develop a better understanding of these links and how they may be turned to the advantage of all involved by improvements in the international policy environment. This book deals with the potential for such improvements as part of formal government-to-government negotiations in the multilateral context in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and bilaterally with the administration of national trade laws and the negotiation of free trade agreements.

Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader, who he is, what he wants, what to do about him

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Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader, who he is, what he wants, what to do about him

Review by Tomohiko Taniguchi Kim Jong-il has been the subject of intense interest and fear in recent months. He has been demonised as 'Dr Evil' for his nuclear programme which puts Korea on a collision course with the US. For this reason, the world has a stake in understanding this man and his little-known country. This account aims to tell the compelling story of Kim Jong-il and the country he leads, exploring the pressing question of how he manages to hold onto power in a country that is ravaged by famine and poverty. Unravelling the myths, mysteries, and fallacies that surround this small, desperate country, this fascinating story includes rare photos of Kim Jong-il and his brutal regime.