Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"The Soul of Japan," my latest for ADBUSTERS

The Soul of Japan

The Soul of Japan

My latest contribution to Adbusters magazine is now out in the August issue. An excerpt and link to the full story below:

Japan has a curiously utopian image in the West right now. Everything from anime and manga to sushi and sudoku seems to emit the whiff of cool culture in the globalized 21st century. Even Japan’s renowned bullet train is on the export docket: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is said to be negotiating with Japan Rail to purchase Japanese high-speed train intellectual property for an upcoming Los Angeles-Las Vegas line, and possibly extending it to San Francisco and other West Coast destinations in the coming years.

But inside the borders of this ancient archipelago, self-confidence is scant. While the aftershocks of a collapsing US economy cause tremors throughout the rest of the world, Japan is suffering a homegrown earthquake.

Unemployment stats have hit their highest points since World War II; the government is now subsidizing major corporations to beef up their staff rosters; immigrant workers are being laid off by the score; and the long-standing governing oligarchy, the so-called Liberal Democratic Party, is on its knees.

Hapless Japanese consumers have stopped spending any capital – political or fiscal. And why shouldn’t they? Japan, designed since the end of World War II to be America’s most passive and dependable Pacific ally, has finally hit paralysis.

“What most people don’t recognize,” wrote Masaru Tamamoto, 
a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, this spring in the New York Times, “is that [Japan’s] crisis is not political, but psychological.” [more here]


ArthurFrDent said...

quite the interesting article...

Roland Kelts said...

Thanks for your very insightful and balanced comments on the Adbusters site earlier this month. You've enough material there for another essay.