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From bonsai to Levi's: when West meets East: an insider's surprising account of how the Japanese live.

In the wake of the American occupation, the Japanese became newly obsessed by nihon jin ron, theories of the Japanese people. With the old feudal ways abolished by fiat and demokurashi embraced, who were they? More recently, as the fruits of the "economic miracle" have permeated Japan, the tone of the nihon jin ron has changed. The apologias of the postwar period have given way to arrogantly self-confident, nationalistic assertions that since Japan has surpassed Detroit, the foreigners would do well to imitate the Japanese. Film director Masaki Kobayashi's recent four-and-a-half-hour epic, Tokyo Saiban, looks at the Tokyo war-crimes trial in light of the American adventure in Vietnam; the film closes with shots of the Hiroshima bombing. So much for war guilt. Revisionist historians in Japan now claim that an American oil embargo made Pearl Harbor inevitable and that Japan fought the war to end Western colonialism in Asia. Others contend that Japan's political system is the world's most democratic. Gone is the old sense of insecurity; in its place is the insistence that Japan has at last learned all there is to know from the West.

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Author:Mellen, Joan
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 10, 1984
Words:187
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