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.
"Here at last is a first-rate book by a Westerner on the obfuscations and realities of Japanese politics," praised PW , complimenting van Wolferen's "almost stupefying thoroughness."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
First and foremost, this book is an expose of Japan Inc..
As a 27 year veteran of living in Japan, I can categorically say that if you live in Japan or plan to, then you... Read more
Despite the comments of a few readers who take Van Wolferen to task, I must say that as a 9 year-resident of Japan this book rings very true. Read morePublished on June 11, 2010 by ukguyjp
This is the most insightful book I have ever read on Japan, may be together with Murphy's The Weight of the Yen. Read morePublished on March 15, 2010 by From Japan
This book came out in 1989 when Japan bashing was a favorite past-time of Westerners. At the time Japan's economy and influence were growing at such a rate that even Americans were... Read morePublished on January 2, 2010 by Torihama
Some of you may remember that old television program "The Outer Limits", where an announcer said at the beginning of the show, "We now have control of your television set", and... Read morePublished on January 23, 2008 by wahzoh
Van Wolferen does an excellent job of exploring the basis of power in Japanese society. As you read the book, you'll learn that Japanese power is a very collective and amorphous... Read morePublished on October 9, 2006 by T. Hooper
Journalist Karel van Wolferen makes a compelling case for the argument that there is virtually no one in control of the Japanese state: it's ruling elite consists of administrators... Read morePublished on October 22, 2005 by David Bonesteel
Published just as the infamous Japanese 'bubble' economy was set to burst - and from which, more than ten years down the road, Japan has yet to recover - van Wolferen's work... Read morePublished on April 10, 2005 by R. Brown