The Rethinking of a Nation
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 A master plan for an institutional makeover of Japan from a political insider whose revisionist agenda remains firmly rooted in the ruling class's long-standing preoccupation with national security. A former Liberal Democratic Party shogun, Ozawa became an influential member of the upstart coalition that wrested power from the LDP last year. Aware that his economically formidable country faces a host of new challenges in the postCold War era, he offers a series of proposals at once parochial and visionary for making parliamentary government more accountable, responsive, and responsible on the home front, less hesitant in the wider world. To facilitate effective government action, for example, he would give local authorities greater autonomy, nurture a genuinely competitive two-party system, reform campaign finance, and redraw the electoral map. Noting that the industrious populace has derived precious little improvement in its standard of living from Dai Nihon's prosperity, Ozawa goes FDR one better in stumping for five freedoms (from teeming urban centers, corporate tyranny, overwork, ageism/sexism, and petty regulation). He advocates a shakeup in the nation's rigid educational methods to encourage students to think for themselves in order to help Japanese companies remain innovative players in the global marketplace. Ozawa also calls on Tokyo to become a high-profile source of foreign aid that sets the pace in environmental matters--a worthy ambition for a resource- poor nation that leads the league in slaughtering dolphins and whales. Senator Jay Rockefeller's pious introduction takes no note of such contradictions. Whether Ozawa's deadly earnest call for his fellow Japanese to create a more open society can gain a broad-based readership in the West is an open question. For certain, however, his grand design is in the self-interested tradition of an insular nation-state whose capacity to adapt has not been in serious doubt since the Meiji Restoration. (Maps)

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1994
ISBN: 4-7700-1871-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994