21st-Century Japan: A New Sun Rising.


176 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55164-306-9
DDC 952.05





Reviewed by Karen F. Danielson

Karen Danielson, Ph.D., is a research consultant at Laurentian
University who specializes in leisure, textiles, family life, and Japan.


Harrison begins with Japanese history, the spread of European “civilization” across the globe, and the early form of free trade imposed when Commodore Perry pressed for access to Japan in 1853. Japan adapted to this changing world by removing the feudal shoguns and restoring the emperor to power. Harrison explains how the country was quickly transformed, and how industrialists gained strength, militarism grew, and Japan ended up so actively involved in World War II.


A second transformation took place as Japan recovered from defeat. The treaty, which gave the United States responsibility for security and foreign affairs, also gave Japan good access to American markets and technology. Then, with state control of economic planning, Japan achieved exceptional economic growth but also became vulnerable to economic recession in the 1990s. Harrison presents a summary of the consequences for job security, distribution of wealth, gender at work, population growth, and rule by the LDP party.


Now a third transformation is taking place in which he finds a nationalism that favours traditional values and culture, rewriting of the constitution, and growing military development. At the same time, there is concern about individual rights and freedoms, peace, security, and trade with rapidly developing neighbours in Asia.


The book finishes with short articles, anecdotes, and haiku that reflect his fondness for the country and his appreciation for the ways it challenged him as he travelled from Fukuoka in the south to Hokkaido in the north, where he taught at Hokkai-Gakuen University in 2006.


Professor Tarumi, a colleague, calls his perspective pro-Japanese and futuristic. The book is packed with information that is both readable by non-specialists and thought-provoking. Those who love the country are likely to enjoy his anecdotes and appreciate the update on some serious issues. Readers may also find that this description of Japan’s unique experience provides some new perspectives on political, social, and economic change in our own country.


Harrison, Trevor W., “21st-Century Japan: A New Sun Rising.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27426.