Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation (Vintage Departures)
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The world's second-wealthiest country, Japan once seemed poised to overtake America as the leading global economic powerhouse. But the country failed to recover from the staggering economic collapse of the early 1990s. Today it confronts an array of disturbing social trends, notably a population of more than one million hikikomori: the young men who shut themselves in their rooms, withdrawing from society. There is also a growing numbers of “parasite singles”: single women who refuse to leave home, marry, or bear children.
In this trenchant investigation, Michael Zielenziger argues that Japan's tradition-steeped society, its aversion to change, and its distrust of individuality are stifling economic revival, political reform, and social evolution. Shutting Out the Sun is a bold explanation of Japan's stagnation and its implications for the rest of the world.
Taggart Murphy, Japan's Policy Trap: Dollars, Deflation, and the Crisis of Japanese Finance (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2002), p. 30. 10. Dower, Embracing Defeat, p. 23. 11. Ibid., pp. 544–46. 12. Ibid., p. 546; see also Leon Hollerman, “International Economic Controls in Occupied Japan,” Journal of Asian Studies 38 (August 4, 1979). 13. Edward J. Lincoln, East Asian Economic Regionalism (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), pp. 30–36. 14. “Foreign Direct
shabu—a Japanese dish of boiled beef dipped in sauce shigarami—the “tangling vines” of corporate and social obligation, like the entangled vines of a Japanese wisteria shikata ga nai—literally, “it can't be helped” shinjinrui—literally, a “new human species”; a term used in Japan to define the seeming difference in behavior being expressed by the younger generation. Japanese commentators have noted various waves of such shinjinrui, who usually revert back to convention after their young
that employed them. Multiply the Enron scandal a thousandfold, and assume that—unlike Enron's Jeffrey Fastow, who was forced behind bars after a guilty plea—almost no one in Japan went to jail. In the mid-1980s, there were scattered voices of prudence within Japan who counseled a change in policy lest the gathering bubble burst. Adopting such a series of reform measures might have forced Japan Inc. to loosen its obsessive grip on its people. Indeed, in 1986, the famous Maekawa Report, promoted
had once been obsessed with getting married. “I thought I must have a husband. Otherwise, I'll be so worried about my future,” recalled the trim, well-dressed sales executive for a computer company, who speaks excellent English. She had grown up in Nagoya, the central Japanese city where Toyota is based, the daughter of a business executive. “My parents always warned me. They said if a woman gets an education, she'll have trouble finding a man.” In her mid-twenties and still living at her
burst—entered a longer period of rolling blackouts, slow or negative growth, relentless economic deterioration, and rising domestic indebtedness. Nonetheless, only a handful of banks, brokerages, and factories shut down; nor were many workers tossed into the streets; blessings perhaps, but ones that indefinitely postponed a necessary retooling. In five years of service, Prime Minister Koizumi's signal achievement was to win approval for the eventual dismantling of the Japanese postal savings