JAPAN TODAY: People, Places, Power by William H. Forbis

JAPAN TODAY: People, Places, Power

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The Japanese are industrious, dutiful, tidy, and ""cherish custom."" They like tea, whiskey, paper-folding, Kabuki, and wrestling; they ""bow but don't scrape"" and they are ""free of the cowering fear of death that afflicts much of the West."" This extensive roundup by a former senior editor at Time is not without its memorable journalistic details--the Japanese supposedly consider it shocking if a female suicide doesn't take her children along, and Forbis claims that some Tokyo subways have public announcements urging the despondent not to jump during rash hour. The Japanese fear of contamination means that department store escalator rails are frequently wiped with antiseptic cloths, while actual pollution in Japan has become the world's most deathly. Nor does the book omit entertaining items about the imperial family, whose head is reported to have visited Hiroshima: ""There seems to have been considerable destruction here,"" he said. Politicians scanned include the late Sato, who got the Nobel Peace Prize simply for doing nothing to alter Japan's well-entrenched non-nuclear position. Forbis adds that, though Japan could easily contrive her own bomb, she won't. The book surveys lesser-known cities and regions of the country--after a claim that there are ""no slums,"" the scandalous state of housing is acknowledged. Forbis' economic overview is dated--he dwells on full employment and the fabled trade boom. Relations to Southeast Asia are barely scrutinized, but the self-proclaimed ""lovable"" Japanese Communist Party gets attention. The book ends with Japan's exacerbated predicament--almost total dependency on raw materials and energy imports. Sizable, browsable, slick.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row