THE JAPANESE: A Major Exploration of Modern Japan by Peter Tasker

THE JAPANESE: A Major Exploration of Modern Japan

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Tasker's first book is a handy, wide-ranging, journalistic survey of Japanese life, morals, customs, and manners that, unfortunately, breaks no new ground for Western readers. Tasker covers everything from the rigid life of the salaryman (including his obligation to drink late into the night with his bosses) to the flashy Japanese mafia (yakuza); from the difficulties of women in the workplace to the complications of modern Japanese politics (with an extended look at colorful politicians such as former Prime Ministers Tanaka and Nakasone). Writing in a brisk, anecdotal style, he thus provides a useful Japan primer--but his reportage lacks the sharp critical insights that distinguish a comparable book like Anthony Sampson's Changing Anatomy of Britain. For example, in regard to employment, he examines large corporations but leaves mostly untouched the issue of workers' lives in smaller- or medium-sized enterprises. The crucial question of Japanese rice production and its stranglehold on agriculture is relegated to a couple of buried paragraphs, and amazingly little attention is given to the ""floating world,"" the elaborate night-life system that plays such a central role in Japanese society today. Other than the comprehensive, focused looks at Japanese politics and unions, Tasker's statistics-laden work gives the impression of a frequent tourist's jotty, superficial observations. Serviceable then, but lightweight.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton