The first major economy to pass through the sequence of financial implosion and electoral upset, Japan is also ahead of the West in stabilizing its political order. But is the stasis of the elite mirrored in the society it sits atop? Renewed deflation and the dwindling of the seishain as backdrop to Abe’s third term.
On Shinzo Abe’s Japan
Headline-grabbing economic and monetary reforms read as smokescreens for a hardening of Japanese foreign policy, with Washington’s partial support. Incompatible mythologies of legitimation in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, presaging insoluble tensions for the region.
East Asia’s Dollars
Discussions of the sustainability of the US current-account deficit—trending upward from $800bn—rarely plumb the long-term motives of its creditors. Taggart Murphy analyses the historical roots of Tokyo’s post-1868 geofinancial support for the ruling superpower, London or Washington, and the implications of China’s rise for Japanese strategy.
How and why Japanese voters rallied to a plebiscite on privatization, downing the first strong cocktail of neoliberalism and chauvinism—laced with submission to the United States—in East Asia. The make-over of the LDP, the eclipse of opposition, and the implications of handing Japan Post to global finance.
Relations between Washington and Europe have been under the spotlight since 2001; less so those between the US and Japan. Koizumi’s constitution-breaking dispatch of SDF units to Iraq, and American strategies for containing China and re-arming the East Asian rim.
Breaking the Iron Triangle
How close is what was once the strongest—now the weakest—link in the chain of world capital to snapping? Gavan McCormack looks at the mortmain of Japan’s construction state, and the extent of its devastation of the country’s physical environment and public finances alike.
Why Does the Emperor Need the Yakuza?
Japan’s flashy gangsters look to be the antithesis of its austere emperors. Bertell Ollman contends that there is a structural connexion between them. Rule by an unelected bureaucracy requires an inviolate imperial symbol for compensating legitimacy, which must in turn be shielded from queries or criticisms by criminal thugs. An American Marxist challenges the central taboo of Japanese public life.
A Left Within the Place of Nothingness
Japan’s Left is the least known of any major state, outside its own borders. Asada Akira situates it in a wide-angled panorama of his country: Japanese political, philosophical and cultural life from inter-war days to the dissatisfied, postmodern present.
For and Against NGOs
Non-governmental organizations have taken over from social movements as candidates for progressive activism. Tessa Morris-Suzuki looks at the theory behind them, and the practice of their roles in Asia and Australia, with a view to a critical politics of the ‘lived world’.
Japan’s Economic Crisis
The 20th century’s most dynamic economy has fallen into prolonged paralysis. What are the causes of Japanese stagnation, and why have the country’s rulers reacted so phlegmatically to it? Taggart Murphy highlights the potentially explosive interdependency between Japanese recession and the American bull market.
The Asian Crisis: The High Debt Model Versus the Wall Street-Treasury-IMF Complex
“How could the widely acknowledged real estate problems of Thailand’s banks in 1996 and 1997 have triggered such a far-reaching debt-and-development crisis? The devaluation of the Thai baht in July 1997 was followed by currency crises or financial instability in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, . . .” read more
Japan, the World Bank, and the Art of Paradigm Maintenance: The East Asian Miracle in Political Perspective
“To what extent is the World Bank an actor, an ‘autonomous variable’ in the international system? Or to what extent are its objectives and approaches the mere manifestations of competition and compromise among its member states? Several writers have argued that the Bank has a relatively large amount . . .” read more
The Price of Affluence: The Political Economy of Japanese Leisure
“It is well known that Japan has in the past decade developed into an economic superpower—the world’s greatest asset country, with the biggest per-capita gnp, the biggest aid budgets, home to all ten of the world’s biggest banks and many of its biggest corporations, the base for . . .” read more
Feminist Politics in Japan
“The situation of women in Japan, perhaps the most advanced capitalist nation today, raises a number of issues that will seem at once familiar and highly distinctive to an international readership. What is the role of women’s labour, and how have capital and the state attempted to regulate . . .” read more
Japan and America: Antagonistic Alliance
“The ‘Nixon Shocks’ of 1971, which announced the opening of relations between the us and China and initiated a series of measures to protect the us economy, had an immense combined impact in Japan. As America’s main economic rival, Japan was the most threatened of all . . .” read more
Washington v.Tokyo: Wall Street v. Marunouchi
“In November last year the us House of Representatives passed a protectionist trade bill, by 215 to 165 votes, which was condemned inside and outside the usa as the worst of its kind since the Smoot-Hawley Bill of 1930. The bill was blocked in the Senate . . .” read more
The Student Left in Japan
“The Japanese student movement has won world-wide publicity in recent years for its militancy. Repeated images have been conveyed of helmeted, stave-wielding students doing massive and heroic battle with the police, of their holding out against helicopter-borne assaults on their university strongholds, or of their hi-jacking aircraft at . . .” read more
Reply to Ishiguro
“Hide Ishiguro’s apt comments are most welcome: my analysis was certainly somewhat abbreviated at many points. However I would like to defend myself against the implication that I was supporting the traditional right-wing view in Europe. The essence of the bourgeois viewpoint, in Britain at least, is to . . .” read more
“Japan is now about to become the third industrial power in the world. It is already the second largest car producing country. In 1955 it’s gross national product was slightly less than half Britain’s. This year it will be almost 20 per cent greater. Japan is the only . . .” read more
Maruyama and Japanese Thought
“I have a number of thoughts and feelings about contemporary domestic and foreign events. However, I believe I should not precipitately engage in political discussions since my scholarship is still shallow and my practical experience is not yet extensive. I prefer rather to stroll in the free world . . .” read more
Tokyo Against the Alliance
“the storms of June are over: but the Japanese sky is still full of clouds. The recent high-tide of the anti-Kishi movement, whose crest was the massive resistance to the new US-Japan Security Treaty, washed away the visit of President Eisenhower. Nevertheless, the Premier and his Liberal-Democratic . . .” read more