or a History of the Future
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 Millennial murk that, under the title Chika Kakumei, was a 1985 best-seller in Japan. A former official at his homeland's redoubtable Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Sakaiya prophesies a brave new postindustrial world in which leisure time and wisdom abound but material as well as human resources are in short supply. In the Arcadian environment he envisions, the mass-produced manufactures that underpin modern consumer societies will yield to goods that somehow combine utility with the equivalent of intelligence and distinctively personal appeal. Unfortunately, the author is decidedly vague as to what constitutes a so-called knowledge-value product, making it almost impossible to gain more than an impression of what the near- and longer-term future might hold--if his predictions come true. Paradoxically, perhaps, Sakaiya's projections are based on notably specific conclusions drawn from selective surveys of Middle Eastern, Oriental, and Western civilizations. The author espouses cyclical theory to the extent that he dwells on instances from the past illustrating how conspicuous consumption gave way to thrift, and materialism to spiritual values. In like vein, Sakaiya makes a persuasive case for the proposition that art and fashion are harbingers of marketplace trends. Of particular interest to US readers who bear with the author's discontinuous critique is his conviction that America's open society is better equipped than that of conformist Japan to capitalize on New Age economics. Be that as it may, Sakaiya's musings are too mystical and mystifying to provide a decent return on any time invested trying to make sense of them.

Pub Date: July 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87011-942-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991