Japan Ponders Starting a Global Journal

 Japan Ponders Starting a Global Journal

Source: Science Magazine (3/12/2004)

Reprinted with permission from "Science Magazine" vol.303, 12 MARCH 2004, PP.1599. Copyright 2004 AAAS. Except as provided by law, this material may not further reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, adapted, performed, displayed, or sold in whole or in part, without prior written permission from the publisher.

“Leaders” of Japan


There are lots of extreme and one sided arguments going on regarding the NGO and private citizen in custody in Iraq. It seems immature or should I say lack social nature and gives you the feeling that we are back to pre-world war II when the country was everything.

In the February edition of “Wedge”, I introduced 3 books (“The Taming of the Samurai”, “Embracing defeat”, “Japan’s chance of disaster” original title: 『日本の禍機』) (in Japanese) The common question is the “leaders”. The books that I’ve read in the past few days raise the same issue. They are both wonderful books, so let me introduce them.

One is “Why Japan reached its dead end” (Original title: 『なぜ日本は行き詰まったか』 Iwanami Shoten, 2004) by Michio Morishima, professor emeritus of London School of Economics (a highly known economist). This book seeks Japan’s future via a journey of Japan and world history, not from an economic point of view, but begins by observing world history and the ethos of its people from the perspective of social science as a whole. It argues the future of a nation whose people lost its traditional ethos. The author shows the history and the formation of capitalism society and the difference between Germany, Britain and America with insight. It is a well written book.

Another book is “The nation’s history of civilization” original title: 『国民の文明史』 (The Sankei Shimbun, 2003) by Terumasa Nakanishi・Professor of Kyoto University. The author observes Japan’s challenges from the viewpoint of history of civilization. This book supports the view of Professor Samuel P. Huntington as written in his book “The clash of civilization”, that Japan is a civilization, and focuses on the historical observation of the movement of civilization in Japan. This is also a remarkable book.

Both books are written by scholars with great historical view and are worth reading. They both point out that the problem lies in the wandering of the once successful “Japanese system” and lack of historical, global perspective and ambition in the “leaders” in the “iron triangle; politics, industries and government”.  However, the interpretation is different.  Dr. Morishima indicates the possible danger of the “right wing action” from historical viewpoint while Dr. Nakanishi seems to take “ right wing kind of support” as a turning point .  Although their context and analysis may differ, their common suggestion gives you a good reference. What’s the matter with the Japanese “leaders”?

Another book that I’ve read in this view point is 「Saving the Sun」(Harper Business, 2003). This is a non-fiction about the fall of Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan written by Ms. Gillian Tett who was the chief correspondent of Financial Times in Japan. Real names like Mr.Onogi, Mr.Yashiro, Mr.Collins and other bureaucrats from the Ministry of Finance show up and is thoroughly written about the common problems of “Japan Co., Ltd.”. As you can see, Japan’s issues are widely known throughout the world.