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On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake off Japan's northeast coast triggered a tsunami that killed more than 20,000 people, displaced 600,000, and caused billions of dollars in damage as well as a nuclear meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. <P><P>Japan, the world's third largest economy, was already grappling with recovery from both its own economic recession of the 1990s and the global recession following the US-driven financial crisis of 2008 when the disaster hit, changing its fortunes yet again. This small, populous Asian nation--once thought to be a contender for the role of the world's number one power--now faces a world of uncertainty. Japan's economy has shrunk, China has challenged its borders, and it faces perilous demographic adjustments from decreased fertility and an aging populace, with the country's population expected to drop to less than 100 million by 2048. In Japan: The Precarious Future, a group of distinguished scholars of Japanese economics, politics, law, and society examine the various roads that might lie ahead. Will Japan face a continued erosion of global economic and political power, particularly as China's outlook improves exponentially? Or will it find a way to protect its status as an important player in global affairs? Contributors explore issues such as national security, political leadership, manufacturing prowess, diplomacy, population decline, and gender equality in politics and the workforce, all in an effort to chart the possible futures for Japan. Both a roadmap for change and a look at how Japan arrived at its present situation, this collection of thought-provoking analyses will be essential for understanding the current landscape and future prospects of this world power.
Millennial Monsters explores the global popularity of Japanese youth goods today while it questions the make-up of the fantasies and the capitalistic conditions of the play involved. Arguing that part of the appeal of such dream worlds is the polymorphous perversity with which they scramble identity and character, the author traces the postindustrial milieu from which such fantasies have arisen in postwar Japan and been popularly received in the United States.
From sushi and karaoke to martial arts and technoware, the currency of made-in-Japan cultural goods has skyrocketed in the global marketplace during the past decade. The globalization of Japanese "cool" is led by youth products: video games, manga (comic books), anime (animation), and cute characters that have fostered kid crazes from Hong Kong to Canada. Examining the crossover traffic between Japan and the United States, Millennial Monsters explores the global popularity of Japanese youth goods today while it questions the make-up of the fantasies and the capitalistic conditions of the play involved. Arguing that part of the appeal of such dream worlds is the polymorphous perversity with which they scramble identity and character, the author traces the postindustrial milieux from which such fantasies have arisen in postwar Japan and been popularly received in the United States.
In Nightwork, Anne Allison opens a window onto Japanese corporate culture and gender identities. Allison performed the ritualized tasks of a hostess in one of Tokyo's many "hostess clubs": pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and making flattering or titillating conversation with the businessmen who came there on company expense accounts. Her book critically examines how such establishments create bonds among white-collar men and forge a masculine identity that suits the needs of their corporations. Allison describes in detail a typical company outing to such a club--what the men do, how they interact with the hostesses, the role the hostess is expected to play, and the extent to which all of this involves "play" rather than "work. " Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography of one specific hostess club (here referred to as Bijo) views the general phenomenon from the eyes of a woman, hostess, and feminist anthropologist. Observing that clubs like Bijo further a kind of masculinity dependent on the gestures and labors of women, Allison seeks to uncover connections between such behavior and other social, economic, sexual, and gendered relations. She argues that Japanese corporate nightlife enables and institutionalizes a particular form of ritualized male dominance: in paying for this entertainment, Japanese corporations not only give their male workers a self-image as phallic man, but also develop relationships to work that are unconditional and unbreakable. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in gender roles or in contemporary Japanese society.
In an era of irregular labor, nagging recession, nuclear contamination, and a shrinking population, Japan is facing precarious times. How the Japanese experience insecurity in their daily and social lives is the subject of Precarious Japan. Tacking between the structural conditions of socioeconomic life and the ways people are making do, or not, Anne Allison chronicles the loss of home affecting many Japanese, not only in the literal sense but also in the figurative sense of not belonging. Until the collapse of Japan's economic bubble in 1991, lifelong employment and a secure income were within reach of most Japanese men, enabling them to maintain their families in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Now, as fewer and fewer people are able to find full-time work, hope turns to hopelessness and security gives way to a pervasive unease. Yet some Japanese are getting by, partly by reconceiving notions of home, family, and togetherness.
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