Dec 4, 2011

Global challenge of the big sell

THE DENTSU WAY, by Kotaro Sugiyama and Tim Andree. McGraw Hill, 2011, 310 pp., $28 (hardcover) Founded in 1901, Dentsu Inc.’s success in becoming Japan’s top advertising agency, and the world’s fifth-largest, reflects the nation’s development from a sheltered, rural-based economy to an international ...

Oct 23, 2011

Documenting disaster

THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE and Tsunami, the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor, and How the World’s Media Reported Them, by Eric Johnston. The Japan Times, 2011, 96 pp., ¥1,260 (paperback) Seven months after Japan’s devastating March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, the jury remains out on ...

Jul 24, 2011

March 11: nation transformation?

REIMAGINING JAPAN: The Quest for a Future that Works. Edited by McKinsey & Company; executive editors Clay Chandler, Heang Chhor and Brian Salsberg. VIZ Media, 2011, 464 pp., $38.99 (hardcover) Read any business report on Japan of recent times and there is a familiar ...

Jun 5, 2011

Can we all just get along?

THE POLITICS OF ECONOMIC REGIONALISM, by Kevin G. Cai. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 196 pp., $80 (hardcover) CHINA, JAPAN AND REGIONAL LEADERSHIP IN EAST ASIA, by Christopher M. Dent. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010, 311 pp., $50 (paper) Will East Asia ever get its own tightknit ...

May 15, 2011

Nintendo's Wiining ways

PLAYING TO WIIN: Nintendo and the Video Game Industry, by Daniel Sloan. Wiley, 2011, 256 pp., $24.95 (hardcover) Ten years ago, tough times had hit Nintendo with shrinking sales and profits, increasing demand for new products and growing pressure from competitors. What hope was ...

Dec 19, 2010

Final word on the year's best reading

Does Japan have a bright future? The pessimists, including apparently most Japanese, would likely answer in the negative amid widespread gloom over the nation’s Heisei Era problems of debt, deflation and demographics. An astute analyst of modern Japan, Tokyo-based academic Jeff Kingston’s latest work ...

Sep 12, 2010

Japan's future: prolonged malaise or muddling through?

“Japan’s best days are behind it,” or so the common wisdom goes, and by reading Tokyo-based academic Jeff Kingston’s latest work, it is easy to see why. CONTEMPORARY JAPAN: History, Politics, and Social Change Since the 1980s, by Jeff Kingston. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, 313 pp., ...

Apr 18, 2010

Troubled times call for such a hero

Japanese history is replete with heroes admired for successfully challenging the status quo. Nostalgia for such figures increases during tough times, as seen in the “Ryoma boom” borne from the TV series on Sakamoto Ryoma, the Meiji Restoration hero. However, the nation might benefit ...

Feb 7, 2010

Different folks, different strokes

Can Japan’s corporate system withstand globalization? Once considered the source of the nation’s competitive strength, traditional practices such as lifetime employment and seniority-based pay have in recent years been increasingly attacked as contributors to poor performance. The postbubble slump eroded an elaborate system of ...

Jul 26, 2009

A peaceful challenge against globalization

London’s famous Ritz Hotel boarded its windows, construction sites were cleared of rubble and bankers were warned to stay home. The event was the April 2009 meeting of the Group of 20, and no effort was spared to protect the visiting dignitaries — and ...