Japan and the Shackles of the Past

ISBN : 9780190619589

R.Taggart Murphy
472 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2017
Send mail
  • Sweeping, magisterial historical account of Japan from the feudal era to the present day by a leading scholar of Japan
  • Features a powerful analysis of contemporary Japanese society, politics, and culture as well as its economy
  • Focuses in particular on the history of the US-Japan relationship, and its prospects going forward

Japan is one of the world's wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations, and its rapid ascent to global power status after 1853 remains one of the most remarkable stories in modern world history. Yet it has not been an easy path; military catastrophe, political atrophy, and economic upheavals have made regular appearances from the feudal era to the present. Today, Japan is seen as a has-been with a sluggish economy, an aging population, dysfunctional politics, and a business landscape dominated by yesterday's champions. Though it is supposed to be America's strongest ally in the Asia-Pacific region, it has almost entirely disappeared from the American radar screen. 

In Japan and the Shackles of the Past, R. Taggart Murphy places the current troubles of Japan in a sweeping historical context, moving deftly from early feudal times to the modern age that began with the Meiji Restoration. Combining fascinating analyses of Japanese culture and society over the centuries with hard-headed accounts of Japan's numerous political regimes, Murphy not only reshapes our understanding of Japanese history, but of Japan's place in the contemporary world. He concedes that Japan has indeed been out of sight and out of mind in recent decades, but contends that this is already changing. Political and economic developments in Japan today risk upheaval in the pivotal arena of Northeast Asia, inviting comparisons with Europe on the eve of the First World War. America's half-completed effort to remake Japan in the late 1940s is unraveling, and the American foreign policy and defense establishment is directly culpable for what has happened. The one apparent exception to Japan's malaise is the vitality of its pop culture, but it's actually no exception at all; rather, it provides critical clues to what is going on now. 

With insights into everything from Japan's politics and economics to the texture of daily life, gender relations, the changing business landscape, and popular and high culture, Japan and the Shackles of the Past is the indispensable guide to understanding Japan in all its complexity.


Introduction: Does Japan Still Matter? 

Part One: Past
Chapter One: Japan Before the Edo Period
Chapter Two: The Incubation of the Modern Japanese State
Chapter Three: Restoration to Occupation
Chapter Four: The Miracle
Chapter Five: The Institutions of High-speed Growth
Chapter Six: Consequences (Intended and Otherwise)

Part Two: Present
Chapter Seven: Economy and Finance
Chapter Eight: Business
Chapter Nine: Social and Cultural Change 
Chapter Ten: Politics
Chapter Eleven: Japan and the World

Suggestions for Further Reading 

About the author: 

R. Taggart Murphy, Professor, Graduate School of Business Sciences, University of Tsukuba (Tokyo)

"Murphy is very persuasive in building a case for his solutions for bringing real change to Japanese politics and foreign relations ... The most fundamental of his prescriptions, though, is undeniably necessary: the Japanese government and people must, for their own sake "confront what put their country in the hands of those who destroyed its independence and made it a byword abroad for brutal, inhuman fanaticism. Trying to bury accounts of what actually happened with fables of a pure and virtuous land, as Abe seeks to do, is simply a way of making it more likely that something similar will happen again soon"." -- Morgan Giles, Times Literary Supplement

"Without doubt, this is the most important book on Japan by a non-Japanese writer to have appeared in the last two decades. It should be required reading for anyone professing to know Japan or wishing to teach others about it." -- BCCJ Acumen, Ian de Stains OBE

"[An] insightful analysis of what ails Japan." - Economist

"Taggart Murphy knows his Japanese history. His theories about Japan's political economy shed interesting light on the country." -- David Pilling, Financial Times

"Japan and the Shackles of the Past is an excellent -- and engagingly written -- introduction to Japan, and a thought-provoking work of political and economic analysis (with quite a few lessons for America and other nations, too)." -- Complete Review

"Murphy sheds much light on Japans current dependence upon the U.S. for maintenance of its political system and its future prospects, closing with an in-depth analysis of the current administration." -- Publishers Weekly

"Taggart Murphy has crafted a precise and highly critical analysis of Japan's problems." -- Satyajit Das, Naked Capitalism

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.