Gibney got to Japan by way of World War II Naval Intelligence (one of the sharpest U.S. intelligence branches) and the...

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JAPAN: The Fragile Superpower

Gibney got to Japan by way of World War II Naval Intelligence (one of the sharpest U.S. intelligence branches) and the Occupation. Speaking fluent Japanese, he returned years later to head a publishing firm, and remained an astute Japan-watcher. Gibney's perception of the cultural quality of amae, or infantile dependence/overindulgence, as the firmament of all Japanese social relations parallels that of the Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi. With greater wit, Gibney shows how the Japanese perennially long to return to their spoiled childhood -- hence the 500,000 ""hostesses"" who ""mother their boys"" (customers) and the incredible formalisms which protect the individual against the lack of mother's love in the social world. Desires and pressures to remain a child in the family are found in the ""harmony principle"" of work and the leader-follower tradition which permeates the industrial bureaucracy. Gibney further indicates historically how the suppression of Christianity and the Japanese lack of an intellectual renaissance accompanying their burst into capitalist development inhibited the creation of a society of strong individuals. The psychology of amae pulls together and transfigures a lot of cliches about Japanese character, while Gibney's survey of externals (current urban squalor, the hardships caused by the 1973-4 oil hoax, and so forth) is penetrating.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974