The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation
A full-scale examination of the inner workings of Japan's political and industrial system.
Paperback, 524 pages
Published June 10th 1990 by Vintage
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Journalist Karel van Wolferen makes a compelling case for the argument that there is virtually no one in control of the Japanese state: it's ruling elite consists of administrators who jockey for position as they seek advantage for their respective ministries, thereby making it difficult for Japan to speak with a unified voice on the international front or make commitments to foreign governments on which it can follow through. Detractors unfairly stain van Wolferen's name with the epithet "Japan...more
Finished the Enigma of Japanese Power in 2006- it's a book that came out in 1989 + 'the bubble that does not burst'. It's a very scholarly book by Karel van Wolferen. I must have tried reading it over the past decade because I have penciled notes. The gist of the book- Japanese power is not the emperor's power or the prime minister's power but a collective power of the established system-( the government is 80% who graduate from Todai etc- no outsiders please) + their agenda is to keep themselve...more
This book mainly talked about how power is organized in Japan, and how that manifests itself in different aspects of Japanese culture. I recommend this for anyone living in Japan or interested in the culture. It's very academic/dry, and what kept it interesting for me is that living in Japan, I was able to witness firsthand some of the claims of the book.
The book gives an inside view of Japanese society, culture and economy.It touches almost every aspect of Japanese society, but mostly dwells on politics and economy. It gives a totally alternative view of Japan from what the outsiders generally think. Instead of a hardworking and free country, it shows how the people of Japan are instructed and taught to behave in a certain way from the beginning. The great role that personal political influence or 'jinmyaku' play in the Japanese politics is ver...more
The Japanese have been taking over entire industries worldwide and storming the high ground of international finance, yet Japan does not behave in the way that the rest of the world expects a world power to behave. In The Enigma Of Japanese Power, the first book to effectively analyze the structure of the Japanese social and political reality, the author shows how the docile conformity exemplified by company loyalty, near absence of litigation, and lack of individualism of Japanese society and c...more
This is a very intriguing survey of Japanese culture written by a Westerner who has spent much of his life in Japan. It focuses on the different means by which social order is maintained in Japanese society. Van Wolferen concludes that Japan is a "stateless nation" whose institutions mask the racial ties through which real power flows. Even if you are not particularly interested in Japan, or if you believe that Japanese culture has undergone fundamental changes since the book was written in the...more
Not worth your time. The author got it all wrong. Despite a lot of research, he still seems couldn't grasp the enigma that is behind the Japanese power. In p. 251, for example, he intentionally quoted Zen priest Shosan quote of context when he was writing on Bushido and Zen, and ridiculing the ancient samurai ideal and basically trying to make it look bad. I think he just didn't get it. Period. And by his inability to understand the Law of Karma, Law of Impermanence, and other concepts of Dhamma...more
this blistering book was initially banned in Japan shortly after it was published. It is full of hard truths about that complex and contradictory land. Ultimately, the ban was removed as that was where I bought and read it.... and finally found some answers to plaguing questions.... is it me? is it the Japanese? Beautiful country, exquisite culture but how do you reconcile that with so much brutal and bristling nastiness.... read this book if you are curious of what I speak and saw and to some e...more