Karel van Wolferen’s The Enigma of Japanese Power is the subject of much controversy and has been generally vilified in Japan, even though it has not been officially published there, is written in a language most Japanese cannot read, and does much to explain the roots of the political crisis that has preoccupied Japan for most of the last year. The book would be important for non-Japanese readers even if it had evoked no reaction whatever from the Japanese. The Enigma of Japanese Power will, I think, stand with other classic attempts by foreigners to interpret Japanese society and institutions, including Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and Chalmers Johnson’s MITI and the Japanese Miracle. Like those books, this one will change the course of subsequent debate about Japan; it will be very hard for anyone to discuss the Japanese political system without responding to Van Wolferen’s argument. The intensity of the Japanese reaction against the book underscores the significance of the messages Van Wolferen is trying to convey.

The furor began three years ago, when “The Japan Problem,” a précis of some of the arguments Van Wolferen has developed in his book, was published in Foreign Affairs. The article advanced a view that the subsequent twists of Japanese politics would seem to have borne out: that there is not a clear center of power in the Japanese government, but that the “buck” is circulating constantly and does not stop on anyone’s desk. The Japanese government is extremely influential, Van Wolferen said, if one considers the cumulative effects of its various parts, but it is not centrally directed or controlled. A variety of Balkanized ministries exercise very strong supervision of trade policy, the schools, public works, prisons, banks, the medical and legal systems, et cetera, but no one stands above the separate organizations, with the authority or power to steer the entire system in a new direction. The best parallel in the American government would be the Pentagon, with its strong but very independent bureaucracies (the ship-building faction of the navy, the long-range bombing faction of the air force, the research-and-development faction, and so on) that fiercely resist the attempts of any president or defense secretary to coordinate them.

Van Wolferen was saying, in short, that Japan may seem structurally and legally a typical liberal democracy, but in practice its politics work differently from those of most other democratic states. One basic difference is that Japan’s is effectively a one-party system. Since 1955, when the ruling LDP was formed, the party has constantly dominated the Diet and therefore the prime minister’s office and the bureaucracy. (In English it is more appropriate to use the neutral acronym LDP than the full name “Liberal Democratic Party,” which is the direct translation of the Japanese name, Jiyuminshuto. The Jiminto, as it is colloquially known, was created from the merger of Japan’s main conservative parties, and the role it plays is exactly the opposite of what Americans think when they hear the words “Liberal Democratic.”)

The peculiarities of Japan’s electoral system strengthen the LDP’s hold and illustrate Van Wolferen’s point about the differences between Japan’s political behavior and that of other advanced democracies. Japan’s version of “one man, one vote” is “one man, three votes”—Supreme Court decisions permit a three-to-one disparity between the most and least populated Diet districts and in reality the disparity is now almost five to one. This gives farmers a hugely disproportionate role in Japanese politics and is much of the reason why Japan’s urban consumers and industrial workers have had so little voice in the nation’s policy.

The farmers and the LDP are locked together in a kind of “agricultural-electoral complex” that is at least as strong as the “military-industrial complex” is in the United States and is probably more destructive to the nation’s overall welfare. For example, the Diet, under the control of the LDP, refuses to let imported rice into the country, even though Japanese rice, grown on tiny plots, costs 600 to 800 percent as much as rice from the vast flatlands of Thailand, Australia, California, or Arkansas. The rice-import ban and other farm quotas force Japanese consumers to pay 30 percent of their income for food, while Americans pay about 15 percent, and the policy indirectly compels them to live in tiny, expensive quarters, since about half of Japan’s scarce nonmountainous land is used for these grossly inefficient farms. The farmers, nonetheless, are pleased and grateful, and they recirculate some of their profits into substantial contributions to the LDP.

According to an opinion poll conducted last December by the prime minister’s office, only one quarter of the Japanese public feels that government policy reflects the best interests of the public; two thirds feel that, on the contrary, the Japanese government acts against the “popular will.” Since “government policy” really means LDP policy, this would seem to be a devastating indictment of the ruling party, and because of year-long bribery scandals, the LDP will probably suffer significant losses in the elections from the Upper House of the Diet in July. But almost no one expects the LDP to lose its control of the government.


A further peculiarity, amplifying Van Wolferen’s themes, is that even though the LDP dominates Japanese policy, policy and issues play almost no part in the workings of the LDP. Under the Japanese “multimember district” system, individual LDP members have to run against each other in the same district, a problem that US congressmen face only when redistricting pits two incumbents against each other. Most election campaigns turn into sheer name-recognition contests—more than half the members of the Diet are the sons of former Diet members, riding in on their fathers’ established names. Within the Diet, LDP politicians ally themselves with habatsu, or “factions” that compete for power the way Republicans and Democrats do in the United States. But while the difference between Democratic and Republican policies sometimes seems slim, there are no differences over policy whatever between the LDP factions. The factions are known by the name of the strong-man who leads them (the Take-shita faction, the Nakasone faction, and so on) and they compete only for political “market share,” much as Toshiba does against the electronics conglomerate NEC. In fact, the real opposition party in Japanese politics is the United States. The LDP prides itself on maintaining a smooth relationship with the Americans, but constant pressure from American politicians and trade negotiators serves the function that an opposition party does in other countries, that of pushing policy in a different direction. There is very little push from within.

At about the time Van Wolferen’s Foreign Affairs article was published, Yasuhiro Nakasone was going into eclipse, in a way that conformed to Van Wolferen’s thesis. Nakasone seemed the exception to the general rule of Japanese politics that no one leader becomes dominant: he was a prime minister who tried to behave like a president rather than a committee chairman, and to impose his views on the government. One of Nakasone’s goals was to increase Japan’s military spending and generally have Japan viewed as a mature world power. Another was to reduce the trade surplus that is America’s chronic grievance against Japan. His military plan succeeded: he pushed military spending above the informal limit of 1 percent of Japan’s GNP without making China, Korea, and the Philippines worry about being invaded again. But he failed in his attempt to redefine the prime minister’s job. Nakasone’s attempts to change Japan’s policy seemed too pushy to the Japanese bureaucracy—and too feeble to other world leaders, who doubted Japan’s ability to carry out commitments Nakasone had made.

The most powerful illustration was the Maekawa Commission Report, a major study by a panel appointed by Nakasone. This report, which was issued just before the Tokyo Economic Summit meeting in 1986, said that the time had come to transform Japan from an export machine, with long working hours and high prices, into a more relaxed, balanced state with more emphasis on imports. Nakasone put his authority behind the report and offered it to other leaders at the summit as an indication that Japan’s trade policy was about to change. But all the entrenched power of the Japanese bureaucracy was against him, and by the time he left office the Maekawa recommendations were moribund. The episode fit the pattern Van Wolferen described:

If Japan seems to be in the world but not of it, this is because its prime minister and other power-holders are incapable of delivering on political promises they may make concerning commercial or other matters requiring important adjustments [in domestic power arrangements]. The field of domestic power normally leaves no room for an accommodation to foreign wishes or demands.

What has happened since Nakasone left office even more vividly illustrates Van Wolferen’s themes: Nakasone’s successor, the luckless Noboru Takeshita, came to office through a whimsical, non-democratic process whose closest US counterpart is the way an American presidential candidate chooses his vice-presidential running mate. Through the summer of 1987, Nakasone showily deliberated about the personal merits of the “new leaders,” three veteran politicians in their sixties who had waited for their turn in line. He settled on Takeshita as the country’s next prime minister, largely because of Takeshita’s reputation as a backstage deal-maker and a proven money-raiser.

In office, Takeshita used his skills to push through two highly unpopular measures, a new consumption tax and an increase in beef and citrus imports from the United States. But he spent the last year watching his cabinet fall apart because of the complex “Recruit Cosmos” scandal. One ambitious parvenu businessman, Hiromasa Ezoe, was shown to have illegally given money and shares in his Recruit company to virtually every prominent figure in the LDP, and leaders of most of the non-Communist opposition parties as well. In some cases the donations were bribes for specific favors from the government; in other cases, Ezoe seemed mainly to be investing in future good will. Ezoe was arrested early this year, and by this spring forty-two politicians or bureaucrats had resigned, fourteen had been arrested, and Takeshita himself had had to admit that Recruit had secretly contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his political campaigns.


Early in April, opinion polls showed that approval of Takeshita’s government had sunk to a ludicrously low 3.9 percent, or one eighth as much support as Richard Nixon had on the day that he resigned. A week after this poll was published, Takeshita announced that he too would resign—but two months later, he was still in office, mainly because the LDP could not find any plausible replacement who was not also tainted by Recruit. The most prominent politician of the LDP who was not implicated in the scandal, the seventy-five-year-old Masayoshi Itoh, refused to take the job unless there were also sweeping reforms in the political fund-raising system typified by the secret payoffs of the Recruit company. “He didn’t hear a word I said,” Itoh was quoted as saying after a meeting with Takeshita in which he discussed political reforms. “I could just as well have been a clown.”

Early in June, Takeshita and a handful of party elders startled the nation by presenting Sosuke Uno as the LDP’s savior. Uno is reputedly an intelligent if prickly man, who was serving at the time of his elevation as Takeshita’s foreign minister—but the widespread joke was that the only reason he’d escaped the Recruit scandal is that no one considered him important enough to bribe. (Joking became even more widespread a few days later, when a semirespectable weekly magazine carried a geisha’s claims that Uno had paid her $25,000 for sexual favors over a several-month period three and a half years ago. As with Nakasone’s “minority groups have low IQs” comment three years ago, the Japanese newspapers did not mention the story until an American newspaper, in this case The Washington Post, publicized it in the US. Uno now says it is a “private matter” not fit for public comment.) About the time Uno was selected, Nakasone announced that he would “resign” his connection with the LDP (though he would keep his seat in the Diet), Uno’s approval rating “soared” to 32 percent, and the public prosecutor’s office conveniently declared the Recruit case closed.

This brings us back to Karel van Wolferen, who might have predicted that the scandal would have ended with something less than a full, cleansing investigation of the Recruit case or the “money-politics” system it exemplified. No one part of Japan’s recent political saga is unique to Japan. Uno will probably be a mere caretaker leader, but the US has had caretakers too, Gerald Ford, for example. Some American presidents have had trouble carrying out their international commitments, as Jimmy Carter demonstrated with the SALT treaty and Woodrow Wilson long before him with the League of Nations. But the combination of recent traits in Japanese politics is unusual: the near-total unimportance of public opinion, the sequence of prime ministers personally choosing their successors, the disgrace of virtually all prominent politicians in one big scandal, the intervention of one of the ministries to stop the scandal from going further. The combination is also consistent with what Van Wolferen called the “Japan problem.”

But when his original article was read in Japan, Van Wolferen became the object of bitter attack—one prominent magazine ran an issue containing half a dozen articles taking him to task. With the publication of Van Wolferen’s book, the criticism has become even more personal. In Japanese newspapers, his book is routinely cited as a harbinger of a new, inexplicably hostile attitude to Japan in the US. In my own talks with Japanese journalists, government officials, and businessmen, I’ve never heard a kind word for Van Wolferen and rarely heard any serious discussion of his argument. Instead I’ve heard countless times that Van Wolferen, a Dutchman who has lived in Japan for twenty-five years, must simply detest the country and its culture, that his animus against Japan must be racially biased. (Many Japanese intellectuals and officials instinctively see criticism of the Japanese political/ economic system as a challenge to the achievements, dignity, and equality of the Japanese “race.” Such sensitivity may be understandable, in view of the history of anti-Asian prejudice in the US and Europe, but it is a real barrier to serious discussion of Japan’s economic policies.)

Why has one relatively complicated book made so many people so mad? Part of the explanation is no doubt a spillover from other frustrations Japan is encountering just now. In the good old days of the postwar economic miracle, Japan could concentrate on smooth relations with the US and otherwise forget about foreign policy. Now it is besieged by countries that want more Japanese aid, want more—or less—Japanese investment, and in general are unhappy about how Japan is using its wealth. Also, Van Wolferen’s rhetorical style is exactly the opposite from the one most Japanese intellectuals prefer. Van Wolferen likes to push every argument to its logical extreme and state everything as bluntly as possible. This makes his book lively to read but violates the Japanese tradition of half-specific, half-vague discourse. “Japanese are treated by their school system and their superiors in the way a landscape gardener treats a hedge; protruding parts of the personality are regularly snipped off,” Van Wolferen says. Many Japanese have used this line to illustrate what they see as a contemptuous tone. But it also demonstrates the power, the directness and clarity of the book—and no one who has seen the Japanese schools or corporate-training programs can argue that what he says is wrong.

Because Van Wolferen pushes every point to its limit, inevitably in a few cases he overstates. For instance, I think Japan is not as helplessly dependent on American good will for its security as Van Wolferen says it is. (The US military is more visibly fearful about losing its bases in Japan than most Japanese are about losing US military protection.) Also, Van Wolferen typically contrasts troublesome Japanese practices with an idealized description of how things are done in “the West,” where Van Wolferen, after all, has not actually lived for many years. But the book’s excesses are only occasional, and the heart of Van Wolferen’s argument is strongly argued, original, and important.

The power and originality of his argument are, finally, the real reasons for Japanese outrage at Van Wolferen’s book. The Enigma of Japanese Power presents a theory of the “differentness” of Japan that is completely at odds with the version that most Japanese believe in, and that Japanese spokesmen have propagated to outsiders. The notion that Japan is different is the starting point for almost every discussion of Japan’s place in the world. The explanations of its differentness, even uniqueness, take many forms. Japan is different because it is better run than other societies (universal literacy, scant crime); because it is so fragile and vulnerable (no natural resources, constant threat of earthquakes); because of its tradition of harmony and consensus; because it has uniquely suffered the atomic bomb. The cartoon version of this concept shows up in nihonjinron, the “study of Japaneseness,” which includes the familiar assertions by Japanese writers that Japanese intestines, brains, snow, and soil are different from those found elsewhere in the world.

Some theories work along the margins between science and crackpottery. For instance, a Japanese government researcher recently wrote that Japanese/Shinto traditions of purity gave Japan a crucial edge in the semiconductor business. (The explanation was that Japan’s instinct for purity allowed factories to reduce ambient dust to levels unattainable in the West; in a cleaner environment the percentage of perfect chips was higher.)

Van Wolferen says that Japan is, indeed, different from other advanced societies, but not for biological or mystical or hazily traditional reasons. The crucial difference, he says, lies in the intellectual and practical foundation of Japan’s political system, which produces behavior and values unlike those in most of the West. The political phenomenon Van Wolferen is discussing is comparable to the differentness in Japan’s economic goals that Clyde Prestowitz analyzed in his carefully reasoned book Trading Places, which was published last year.

Americans often complain that Japan’s trading practices are “unfair,” Prestowitz said, but such objections completely miss the point. To call Japanese practices “unfair,” as the US government did last month under the “Super 301” trade law, assumes that Japan’s goals are the same as America’s and that Japan is taking shortcuts to reach them. In fact, Prestowitz said, Japan’s trade and economic policies represent consistent and impeccably “fair” efforts to reach an entirely different set of goals. The United States mainly wanted to improve the individual consumer’s standard of living, and therefore it usually permitted imports unless some powerful lobby, such as the beet-sugar growers, stood in the way. Japan mainly wanted to develop industries within its own territory, and therefore it usually resisted imports of high-value products it could make on its own.

The significant fact about Japan’s trade patterns is not that it exports so much—West Germany and many other countries export proportionately more—but that it imports so few manufactured goods. In 1986 Germany imported 37 percent of all the manufactured goods it consumed; Japan, 4.4 percent. As Chalmers Johnson of the University of California has recently pointed out, “Japan’s imports, particularly of manufactured goods, are between 25 and 45 percent below what would be expected of a country with Japan’s economic attributes.”1 The “Four Tigers”—South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore—have a combined gross national product only one eighth as large as Japan’s, but their combined imports are greater.

Most developed economies have a very high “specialization ratio”—an economic term of art which means that countries both import and export within the same product category. Automobiles, for instance, are a leading export and a leading import for Germany. The United States exports a tremendous amount of food but imports even more. Japan is the only developed country with a very low “specialization ratio.”2 If it can make a certain item for itself, it generally does not buy from abroad.

Americans are often frustrated in their trade negotiations with Japan, Prestowitz writes, because they fail to imagine how different Japan’s goals might be from their own. American politicians and negotiators continually say that Japan must “open” its markets, “but the Japanese had no conception of what the Americans meant by open.” In the American economic and political system, “openness” meant that anything not specifically forbidden should be permitted; in the Japanese regulatory scheme, “opening” the market meant allowing foreign competitors in one by one. Rather than whine about Japan’s failure to pursue the same goals in the same way that America does, Prestowitz argues, Americans should accept Japan for what it is and adjust their policies so as to coexist with it.

In the case of Japan’s political system, Van Wolferen says that the difference lies in the essential source of political legitimacy. Western politics, in the slightly idealized version that Van Wolferen outlines, turns on a constant tension between the power of the state and the loyalties that reach beyond the state—to religious values, to ideas of the universal rights of man. In Japan, he says, the forces that offset the power of the state are extremely weak. This, he says, is

the characteristic that, in the final analysis, is the most crucial factor determining Japan’s socio-political reality, a factor bred into Japanese intellectual life over centuries of political suppression. It is the near absence of any idea that there can be truths, rules, principles or morals that always apply, no matter what the circumstances.

Japanese Shinto religion, Van Wolferen says, lacks a strong ideology or even a set of scriptures. LDP-dominated politics rarely turn on issues, which is why the change from one prime minister to another makes so little difference to the outside world. Even the codes of behavior and personal morality that are taught to Japanese youth stress needs springing from different situations, such as duty to friends and family or loyalty to superiors, rather than abstract principles. “Japanese are not expected to take their cues from an inner voice that reminds them of moral absolutes they came to embrace while growing up,” he says.

They cannot appeal to any principle or ideal with which to justify their behaviour in the eyes of their neighbors, fellow workers or superiors. To understand this moral world one must imagine a situation in which good behaviour is constantly determined by individuals’ views of how others expect them to behave.

Van Wolferen’s argument that the Japanese have “no absolute truths” has been infuriating to many people in Japan, but not for the reason most outsiders might suspect. The concept itself has not been the main concern of Van Wolferen’s critics, partly because so many Japanese theorists have claimed that Japan’s ethics are more flexible and “situational” than those of the rule-bound West. It is, instead, Van Wolferen’s tone that has stung many Japanese, who see in it raw contempt for Japan and a continuation of the age-old struggle to show the white man’s superiority over the devious yellow man. (“How could he have stayed here so long if he hates us so much?” an official of the Japanese foreign ministry asked me after he’d read Van Wolferen’s book.)

This reaction, I think, misreads Van Wolferen’s intentions, and in a serious way. Van Wolferen clearly prefers the legal and intellectual world of the West to that of Japan, but he is not condemning the Japanese system so much as he is trying to explain it clearly. Similarly, Clyde Prestowitz is renowned in Japan as a “Japan-basher”; yet his book, far from demanding that Japan change its trading practices, merely asked foreigners to understand the practices for what they are. The phrase wakatte kudasai—“please understand”—is used frequently by Japanese negotiators. It represents a request to recognize the peculiarities of Japanese politics or society and accept them without criticism. This is the rule that Van Wolferen has violated. His argument about the absence of consistently applicable values could be wrong, but his book leaves the burden of proof on the other side.

Van Wolferen explains one other political difference, which is of much greater practical significance to outsiders dealing with Japan. Japanese spokesmen like to say, and Americans and Europeans seem willing to believe, that Japan’s distinctive social traits somehow come naturally to its people. After all the millennia of living in close quarters, the Japanese, it is said, have learned to work well in groups. Because of some instinctive sense of the collective good, Japanese employees are loyal to their companies, and the companies are said to be willing to look past short-term profitability and invest for the long haul. Japanese students concentrate harder on their work; Japanese factory hands devote themselves to making the best possible product.

No doubt there are some basic behavioral differences between the average Japanese citizen and the average American or Frenchman. Japan’s idea that it is monoracial makes it easier to generate a feeling of national unity. (The idea of racial unity, which was propagated during the Meiji era and again in the buildup to World War II, is the important trait, since the Japanese population itself is less homogeneous than, say, Korea’s.) For a variety of reasons, Japanese blue-collar workers seem on the whole more diligent than their counterparts in the US or Europe. But for American readers, the most startling part of Van Wolferen’s book will be his extensive demonstration that most of these “innate” traits are actually the results of the deliberate use of political and economic power.

The loyalty” of white-collar workers to their company, in contrast to the constant movement of employees in other countries, is one clear example. Van Wolferen points out that the major corporations tacitly agree never to hire someone who has left another firm. Japanese children are studious in large part because admission to the University of Tokyo, which is based on examination scores, is essentially their only hope for having an influential place in society. In the higher reaches of the US civil service, 11 percent of appointees have some connection to Harvard. In Japan’s extremely powerful Ministry of Finance, 88 percent of the senior officials are from the University of Tokyo, as are most of the officials in other agencies.

Japanese are “nonlitigious,” not just because of their alleged love of consensus but also because of the acute shortage of lawyers. The Ministry of Justice controls the Legal Training and Research Institute, where future lawyers and judges must train, and it admits only 2 percent of those who apply. (Of the 23,855 who took the entrance examination in 1985, 486 were admitted.) “The widespread idea that the Japanese are reluctant to enter the legal profession is pure myth,” Van Wolferen says.

As one specialist has pointed out, the number of Japanese, relative to the total population, who took the judicial examination in 1975 was slightly higher than the figure for Americans taking a bar examination.

Most criminals arrested by the police confess partly out of a sense of remorse but also because they know what a trial would mean: in 99 percent of criminal trials, the verdict is guilty.

Japanese salarymen devote eighteen hours a day to the company partly out of dedication but also because they feel they have no choice. “The phenomenon of a middle class deprived to a large extent of men functioning as husbands and fathers is of relatively recent origin,” Van Wolferen says. He quotes an academic study: “If Japanese ‘naturally’—because of cultural preconditioning—were prepared to give up their egos to a large organisation, the organisation would not have to work so hard to instill loyalty and identification.” That is, the quasi-compulsory morning exercises and company songs that are common in Japanese companies may not indicate how “naturally” the Japanese conform but rather how unnatural the overwhelming emphasis on teamwork is.

A less benign effort to instill the team spirit is now being contemplated. The monbusho, or Ministry of Education, has long been one of the most conservative and pig-headedly nationalistic of all Japanese bureaucracies. Every year or two, the monbusho provokes outrage throughout Asia when it considers new history texts that gloss over Japan’s role in China before and during World War II. Predictably, the Chinese and Korean governments lodge bitter protests, and predictably the monbusho is forced to back off. It also typically meets resistance from the Nikkyoso, or national teacher’s union, which is the main source of organized left-wing sentiment in the country. Early this year, the monbusho announced plans for a new emphasis on national pride in Japan’s public school curriculum, which is centrally controlled from Tokyo. (In every corner of the country, students cover the same subjects with the same books in the same weeks of the year, as directed by the monbusho.)

Japan’s schools are already heavily directed toward developing the character traits that have made the Japanese productive system strong. Children go to school six days a week, for instance, even though the academic courses they take could easily be fitted into five days, because the six-day schedule teaches them the value of perseverance and hard work. Onto this existing pattern the monbusho proposes to add a stronger emphasis on the narrowly nationalistic glories of Japan: children will learn more about Japan’s military heroes and spend more time hearing the national anthem and seeing the flag. It’s to be expected that schools will cultivate national pride but there’s hardly a shortage of it in Japan. For several years, Japanese diplomats, government spokesmen, and conferencegoers have been assuring foreigners that Japan’s new motto is kokusaika—“internationalization,” to reduce the spiritual and psychological barriers between Japan and the rest of the world. Apparently the Japanese school system has not gotten the news.

To point out the remaining factors that make Japan unusual, as Prestowitz and now Van Wolferen have done, is not to foment hostility toward Japan. If anything, it is the best way to ensure smoother relations in the future. In the long run, the greatest source of hostility toward Japan is the myth of kokusaika—the idea that, any minute now, Japan’s economy and its political system will be just like those in the United States or Western Europe, and that trade imbalances and other misunderstandings will therefore naturally melt away. The Japanese system is not about to transform itself, and it is presumptuous for outsiders to say that it should. Japan has been very successful doing things its own way. It has virtually no street crime, drugs, homeless families, or single parents. Its savings rate is high, and the literacy rate is nearly 100 percent. Every hour of every day, its foreign assets increase by $10 million.

This society does not seem to its leaders such a total failure. And if foreigners like Van Wolferen do not like the social contract on which the success is built, well, no one is asking them to become Japanese. The rest of the world will have no trouble getting along with this society, including its trading practices, if outsiders take Japan’s system for what it is, not as some midway point en route to becoming just like the United States. Prestowitz’s description of Japan’s economy and Van Wolferen’s analysis of its political system do more than any other books in many years to encourage a healthy realism about Japan.

This Issue

July 20, 1989