Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199235698

Christopher Goto-Jones
176 ページ
112 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • Looks at many contemporary concerns and issues in Japan - exploring its history, economy, politics, and culture
  • Examines what it means to call Japan a 'modern' society, and what 'modern' has meant to the Japanese
  • Debunks many myths, for example explaining how Japan was never completely isolated from the outside world: even during the long period of so-called sakoku (isolationism, 1601-1853)
  • Examines the continuity between pre-Pacific War Japan, and post-war Japan

Japan is arguably today's most successful industrial economy, combining almost unprecedented affluence with social stability and apparent harmony. Japanese goods and cultural products are consumed all over the world, ranging from animated movies and computer games all the way through to cars, semiconductors, and management techniques. In many ways, Japan is an icon of the modern world, and yet it remains something of an enigma to many, who see it as a confusing montage of the alien and the familiar, the ancient and modern. The aim of this Very Short Introduction is to explode the myths and explore the reality of modern Japan - by taking a concise look at its history, economy, politics, and culture.


Introduction: What is Modern Japan?
1: Japan's Encounter with the Modern World
2: Overcoming Modernity in Imperial Japan
3: Overcome by the Modern: the US Occupation
4: Japan's Miraculous Modern Economy
5: Towards a Post-Modern Society
6: Normalcy and Japan's Place in the Modern World
Further reading


Christopher Goto-Jones is Professor of Modern Japan Studies at the University of Leiden. His publications include Political Philosophy in Japan : Nishida, the Kyoto School, and Co-Prospersity, RoutledgeCurzon (Leiden Series in Modern East Asia), 2005 and Re-Politicising the Kyoto School qua Philosophy RoutledgeCurzon (Leiden Series in Modern East Asia), 2006.

A wonderfully engaging narrative of a complicated history, which from the beginning to end sheds light on the meaning of modernity in Japan as it changed over time. An exemplary text. - Carol Gluck, Columbia University

With remarkable clarity and breadth of coverage, Goto-Jones introduces the major topics and themes of the modern history of Japan, giving particularly thoughtful attention to the complex and tortured efforts of figures seeking to define and defend a properly Japanese modernity, and those striving to come to grips with the trauma and shadow of World War II. - Andrew Gordon, Harvard University

Lively, lucid, and full of insight, this is an outstanding exploration of Japan's troubled modern past. - Stephen S. Large, Wolfson College, Cambridge University