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Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan by…
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Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan

by Jeff Kingston

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Kingston's Contemporary Japan has been a useful overview of Japanese society, so I had high hopes for this collection of essays. Unfortunately, it is a mixed bag.

While there is only one total dud (a TPP cheerleading piece straight out of the USTR press office), there are a few common problems: too wide-ranging topics in too little space or an excess of optimism. The part on "social dilemmas" is badly hit by the former. The topics are very various, and many authors end up either staking wide-ranging claims without much grounding or alternatively end up spending most of their space on the topic's background. The optimism problem is particularly evident in an alternative energy article, where many official initiatives are listed (but Japan has a lot of official initiatives) and another on justice reform, which concentrates on lawyer training and the lay judge system (but the continuing issues of forced confessions and prosecutor-choreographed trials are mentioned very briefly).

Fortunately there is quite a lot of good too. To mention a few high points, Kingston's own contributions are up to the usual level. The island disputes both with Korea, China and Russia are well outlined in two articles. John Mock's article on the depopulation of rural Japan presents a good overview of an often-ignored topic. David Leheny's piece on hidden assumptions in criticism of Japan and the contradictions they cause is commendable.

As this collection demands some critical reading, I wouldn't recommend it (at least in its entirety) as an introduction to Japan's problems, but it is a useful read for a somewhat advanced student. ( )
  sinivalas42 | Sep 6, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415857457, Paperback)

This book provides undergraduate and graduate students with an interdisciplinary compendium written by a number of leading specialists on contemporary Japan. Chapters reflect the standards of rigorous scholarly work, but also exceed them in their accessibility of language and engagement with concerns relevant to non-specialists. The probing analysis of key debates and issues confronting Japan make this ideal for college courses and an essential reference work on Japan/Asia for libraries.

This book encompasses a range of disciplines in the social sciences and thus will be useful for a variety of courses including Comparative Politics, Media Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Asian Studies, International Relations, Public Policy, Healthcare, Education, Judicial Reform, Gender and Minority Studies. The strength of this volume is in the collective efforts of accomplished experts providing in-depth analysis and up-to-date comprehensive coverage of Japan in the 21st century. Students will gain the analytical insights and information necessary to assess the challenges that confront the Japanese people, policymakers and private and public sector institutions.

Key issues covered in this volume include:

* Rapidly Aging society

* Changing Employment system

* Energy policy-Nuclear and Renewable

* Gender discrimination

* Immigration

* Ethnic minorities

* Trade policy

* Civil society

* Rural Japan

* Okinawa

* Post-3.11 Tsunami, earthquake, nuclear meltdown developments

* Internationalization

* Sino-Japanese relations

* East Asia’s divisive history

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:44 -0400)

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