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Modernity, Loss, and the Doing of History
Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan is a historical analysis of the discourses of nostalgia in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japan. Through an analysis of the experience of rapid social change in Japan’s modernization, it argues that fads (ryūkō) and the desires they express are central to understanding Japanese modernity, conceptions of gender, and discourses of nationalism. In doing so, the author uncovers the myth of eternal return that lurks below the surface of Japanese history as an expression of the desire to find meaning amid the chaos and alienation of modern times. The Meiji period (1868–1912) was one of rapid change that hastened the process of forgetting: The state’s aggressive program of modernization required the repression of history and memory. However, repression merely produced new forms of desire seeking a return to the past, with the result that competing or alternative conceptions of the nation haunted the history of modern Japan. Rooted in the belief that the nation was a natural and organic entity that predated the rational, modern state, such conceptions often were responses to modernity that envisioned the nation in opposition to the modern state. What these visions of the nation shared was the ironic desire to overcome the modern condition by seeking the timeless past. While the condition of their repression was often linked to the modernizing policies of the Meiji state, the means for imagining the nation in opposition to the state required the construction of new symbols that claimed the authority of history and appealed to a rearticulated tradition. Through the idiom of gender and nation, new reified representations of continuity, timelessness, and history were fashioned to compensate for the unmooring of inherited practices from the shared locales of everyday life.
This book examines the intellectual, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the rapid spread of Western tastes and styles, along with the backlash against Westernization that was expressed as a longing for the past. By focusing on the expressions of these desires in popular culture and media texts, it reveals how the conflation of mother, countryside, everyday life, and history structured representations to naturalize ideologies of gender and nationalism.
The Parliamentary Cabinet System since 1868
The world's third largest economy and a stable democracy, Japan remains a significant world power; but its economy has become stagnant, and its responses to the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 and the nuclear crisis that followed have raised international concerns. Despite being constitutionally modeled on Great Britain's "Westminster"-style parliamentary democracy, Japan has failed to fully institute a cabinet-style government, and its executive branch is not empowered to successfully respond to the myriad challenges confronted by an advanced postindustrial society.
In Growing Democracy in Japan, Brian Woodall compares the Japanese cabinet system to its counterparts in other capitalist parliamentary democracies, particularly in Great Britain. Woodall demonstrates how the nation's long history of dominant bureaucracies has led to weakness at the top levels of government, while mid-level officials exercise much greater power than in the British system. The post--1947 cabinet system, begun under the Allied occupation, was fashioned from imposed and indigenous institutions which coexisted uneasily. Woodall explains how an activist economic bureaucracy, self-governing "policy tribes" (zoku) composed of members of parliament, and the uncertainties of coalition governments have prevented the cabinet from assuming its prescribed role as primary executive body.
Woodall's meticulous examination of the Japanese case offers lessons for reformers as well as for those working to establish democratic institutions in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and the new regimes born during the Arab Spring. At the very least, he argues, Japan's struggles with this fundamental component of parliamentary governance should serve as a cautionary tale for those who believe that growing democracy is easy.
Purpose and Prosperity in Postwar Japan
Our narratives of postwar Japan have long been cast in terms almost synonymous with the story of rapid economic growth. Scott O’Bryan reinterprets this seemingly familiar history through an innovative exploration, not of the anatomy of growth itself, but of the history of growth as a set of discourses by which Japanese "growth performance" as "economic miracle" came to be articulated. The premise of his work is simple: To our understandings of the material changes that took place in Japan during the second half of the twentieth century we must also add perspectives that account for growth as a new idea around the world, one that emerged alongside rapid economic expansion in postwar Japan and underwrote the modes by which it was imagined, forecast, pursued, and regulated. In an accessible, lively style, O’Bryan traces the history of growth as an object of social scientific knowledge and as a new analytical paradigm that came to govern the terms by which Japanese understood their national purposes and imagined a newly materialist vision of social and individual prosperity.
Several intersecting obsessions worked together after the war to create an agenda of social reform through rapid macroeconomic increase. Epistemological developments within social science provided the conceptual instruments by which technocrats gave birth to a shared lexicon of growth. Meanwhile, reformers combined prewar Marxist critiques with new modes of macroeconomic understanding to mobilize long-standing fears of overpopulation and "backwardness" and argue for a growthist vision of national reformation. O’Bryan also presents surprising accounts of the key role played by the ideal of full employment in national conceptions of recovery and of a new valorization of consumption in the postwar world that was taking shape. Both of these, he argues, formed critical components in a constellation of ideas that even in the context of relative poverty and uncertainty coalesced into a powerful vision of a materially prosperous future.
Even as Japan became the premier icon of the growthist ideal, neither the faith in rapid growth as a prescription for national reform nor the ascendancy of social scientific epistemologies that provided its technical support was unique to Japanese experience. The Growth Idea thus helps to historicize a concept of never-ending growth that continues to undergird our most basic beliefs about the success of nations and the operations of the global economy. It is a particularly timely contribution given current imperatives to reconceive ideas of purpose and prosperity in an age of resource depletion and global warming.
Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan
Handmade Culture is the first comprehensive and cohesive study in any language to examine Raku, one of Japan’s most famous arts and a pottery technique practiced around the world. More than a history of ceramics, this innovative work considers four centuries of cultural invention and reinvention during times of both political stasis and socioeconomic upheaval. It combines scholarly erudition with an accessible story through its lively and lucid prose and its generous illustrations. The author’s own experiences as the son of a professional potter and a historian inform his unique interdisciplinary approach, manifested particularly in his sensitivity to both technical ceramic issues and theoretical historical concerns. Handmade Culture makes ample use of archaeological evidence, heirloom ceramics, tea diaries, letters, woodblock prints, and gazetteers and other publications to narrate the compelling history of Raku, a fresh approach that sheds light not only on an important traditional art from Japan, but on the study of cultural history itself.
A History of Community Survival in Modern Japan
Hard Times in the Hometown tells the story of Kaminoseki, a small town on Japan’s Inland Sea. Once one of the most prosperous ports in the country, Kaminoseki fell into profound economic decline following Japan’s reengagement with the West in the late nineteenth century. Using a recently discovered archive and oral histories collected during his years of research in Kaminoseki, Martin Dusinberre reconstructs the lives of households and townspeople as they tried to make sense of their changing place in the world. In challenging the familiar story of modern Japanese growth, Dusinberre provides important new insights into how ordinary people shaped the development of the modern state.
Chapters describe the role of local revolutionaries in the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the ways townspeople grasped opportunities to work overseas in the late nineteenth century, and the impact this pan-Pacific diaspora community had on Kaminoseki during the prewar decades. These histories amplify Dusinberre’s analysis of postwar rural decline—a phenomenon found not only in Japan but throughout the industrialized Western world. His account comes to a climax when, in the 1980s, the town’s councillors request the construction of a nuclear power station, unleashing a storm of protests from within the community. This ongoing nuclear dispute has particular resonance in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis.
Hard Times in the Hometown gives voice to personal histories otherwise lost in abandoned archives. By bringing to life the everyday landscape of Kaminoseki, this work offers readers a compelling story through which to better understand not only nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan but also modern transformations more generally.
15 illus., 2 maps
The first three centuries of the Heian period (794–1086) saw some of its most fertile innovations and epochal achievements in Japanese literature and the arts. It was also a time of important transitions in the spheres of religion and politics, as aristocratic authority was consolidated in Kyoto, powerful court factions and religious institutions emerged, and adjustments were made in the Chinese-style system of ruler-ship. At the same time, the era’s leaders faced serious challenges from the provinces that called into question the primacy and efficiency of the governmental system and tested the social/cultural status quo. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, the first book of its kind to examine the early Heian from a wide variety of multidisciplinary perspectives, offers a fresh look at these seemingly contradictory trends. Essays by fourteen leading American, European, and Japanese scholars of art history, history, literature, and religions take up core texts and iconic images, cultural achievements and social crises, and the ever-fascinating patterns and puzzles of the time. The authors tackle some of Heian Japan’s most enduring paradigms as well as hitherto unexplored problems in search of new ways of understanding the currents of change as well as the processes of institutionalization that shaped the Heian scene, defined the contours of its legacies, and make it one of the most intensely studied periods of the Japanese past.
The third-century Chinese chronicle Wei zhi (Record of Wei) is responsible for Japan’s most enduring ancient mystery. This early history tells of a group of islands off the China coast that were dominated by a female shaman named Himiko. Himiko ruled for more than half a century as head of the largest chiefdom, traditionally known as Yamatai, until her death in 248. Yet no such person appears in the old Japanese literature. Who was Himiko and where was the Yamatai she governed? In this, the most comprehensive treatment in English to date, a senior scholar of early Japan turns to three sources—historical, archaeological, and mythological—to provide a multifaceted study of Himiko and ancient Japanese society.
Imperial Tradition and Military Decision Making in Prewar Japan
"[Wetzler] concludes that Hirohito participated fully in the decision-making processes that led to key events, from the Manchurian Incident, through the attack on Pearl Harbor, to the decision to surrender. He argues that like members of other decision-making bodies, Hirohito was able to prevail on some occasions but not on others, and that he shares responsibility for the decisions and should not be singled out for blame. The book's greatest virtue is its balanced approach to a topic that has been and will continue to be hotly debated." --Choice "An important addition to studies dealing with Hirohito and Japanese political history of the Showa era." --American Historical Review
In June 2001 Rahna Reiko Rizzuto travels to Hiroshima to research and interview survivors of the atomic bomb, leaving her husband and two young sons in New York. Her work does not go well until September 11, when the survivors finally open up as they share Americans’ fears and relive their own trauma. But Rizzuto’s marriage is crumbling. On her own in Japan, she questions her role as a mother and wife and ultimately makes the painful decision to get a divorce and have the children live with her ex-husband.