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New Left Review 88, July-August 2014

Kristin Surak


‘Japan is not interesting’: thus the literary scholar Masao Miyoshi could, with a twist of irony, entitle an essay on his native country a decade and a half ago. [1] David Pilling, Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival, Allen Lane: London 2014, £20, hardback 385 pp, 978 1 846 14546 9 The dramas that have since beset Japan might serve to qualify Miyoshi’s provocation. In 2011, the fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded thrust parts of the archipelago four metres to the east and jolted the country back to the front pages. The accompanying tsunami towered forty feet high, killed twenty thousand, displaced 300,000, and ignited the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Capitalists hoped the destruction would be creative. When the waters cleared, the ldp was returned to power under the leadership of an unlikely innovator promising to jump-start the economy and revive the country’s animal spirits with bold inflationary measures. The Economist lost no time blazoning Abe on its cover, kitted out as Superman, punching the skies.

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Kristin Surak, ‘Re-selling Japan’, NLR 88: £3

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