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Straitjacket Society: An Insider's Irreverent View of Bureaucratic Japan

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  8 reviews
A book that could have easily been called Games Japanese Play, Straitjacket Society delves beneath the surface of ready smiles and gentle manners to look at the underlying code of Japanese life, which is nowhere more apparent than in the halls of power. Almost overnight Masao Miyamoto attracted worldwide attention by pointing out the arcane - and often archaic - code of li ...more
Hardcover, 197 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Kodansha (first published 1993)
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Patrick McCoy
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Masao Miyamoto’s fascinating expose, Straightjacket Society, was listed as a source in Michael Zielenziger’s equally fascinating analysis of contemporary Japanese society, Shutting Out The Sun. Unfortunately this book, published in English by Kodansha, in 1994, is out of print. However, I think a lot of what he describes about Japanese bureaucracy is still true today. Miyamoto was a very atypical bureaucrat-he is an American trained psychoanalyst who lived and worked in America for 10 years. He ...more
Barry Lancet
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
This book is a case of something simple morphing into the profound. After a distinguished career in the United States, Dr. Miyamoto took an exalted post back in Japan in the health and welfare ministry. He rose steadily through the ranks, but slowly began to feel the pressure of the stifling bureaucratic life, which he summed up in capsule form as, "Don't take vacations, don't be late, and don't initiate anything new."

When first published in Japanese, Miyamoto's book created a sensation. He was
One of the funniest and most insightful books ever written by an insider about Japan's mind-boggling bureaucracy. His time in the US has clearly corrupted his mind with foreign ideas, making him no longer suited for the hive-mind found in government and corporate organizations. I see this everyday in the Japanese corporate world (Dilbert World). Like receiving compliance training on the handling of client information when our department has no contact with clients~ The episode he describes about ...more
Michael Kato
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straitjacket Society was first published in 1993 in Japanese, then translated into English and first published in 1994. This was less than a decade after I moved to Japan in 1987 and shortly after the collapse of the economic bubble period in which Japan Inc. dominated the global economic stratosphere. But while the seemingly bulletproof armor of Japan's elite corporations had lost their luster, most of Japan and much of the world had yet to recognize the meaning and impact of the collapse, nor ...more
Shawn Buckle
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miyamoto accounts his time spent in bureaucratic Japan and all of its problems: Confucian principles of seniority that stifle efficiency and employee development; karoshii (death by being overworked); amakudari (bureaucrats being shadily given public jobs once old age hits); and the overall work ethic of bureaucrats (late-night drinking sessions, an odd, inefficient system of groupism, public school hazing, etc)
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miyamoto is one of the few Japanese critics of Japan, at least those who are daring enough to say anything other than behind closed doors. He gave me a whole new perspective on the way Japanese people think and how their society works (or doesn't, as the case may be), which was very helpful while I was living there. A must-read for anyone who wants to know more about Japan and its people, or is part of the JET program. ...more
Gregoor Kerkhof
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gives a wonderfull insight in the way Japan's inner workings, both in the way politics is run, and how Japan views those who have ventured outside the bounds of Japan and returned, as experienced by Miyamoto himself. ...more
Ketan Shah
A little dry and the writer sems to have too much of an axe to grind with Japanese bureaucracy,but still an interesting look at what makes Japanese politics (and society) tick.
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