A full-scale examination of the inner workings of Japan's political and industrial system.
Few Americans have examined carefully the nation whose economy and industry is bound up with their own, whose future will inescapably shape theirs--Japan, that is. Dutch journalist Karel van Wolferen does the job, and very well indeed, depicting a Japan alternately awed and disgusted by the world beyond its shores, governed by a puppet emperor in the service of the zaikaijin, a gerontocracy of businessmen who control the national economy, just as they have done for generations. Their hierarchy is reinforced by the fear that, as in 1945, hostile powers will not only overpower the Japanese economy but denature the Japanese people, introducing foreign concepts of democracy and even the specter of an "impure race." Although Van Wolferen balances his account by highlighting what he regards as positive Japanese traits, including thrift, respect for elders, industriousness, and self-control, The Enigma of Japanese Power remains a controversial text in the nation it assays to describe with discomforting accuracy.