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 does not attempt to hide the varied socio-political ills facing the country, including increasing divorce, suicide and social disparities.
But amid the gloom, there is evidence of a new society slowly emerging from the postbubble slump.
“Many countries would love to have Japan’s problems,” Kingston contends. Hope could yet be rekindled should the reformers succeed.
China’s seemingly unstoppable economic rise has sparked both admiration and fear, with critics fearing the environmental implications of its growing resource demand. The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts presents a wide-ranging expose of a country that could be either “an environmentalist’s worst nightmare” or alternatively, as Beijing’s propagandists might hope, “the world’s first green superpower.”
Rapid industrialization has come at considerable cost, with China possessing 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities and an unenvied status as the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter. However, the West also has dirt on its hands, having outsourced much of its pollution to China.
Known as “Dr. Doom” for his accurate but gloomy predictions, New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini is credited with predicting the 2008 global financial crisis two years beforehand.
Co-written with historian Stephen Mihm, “Crisis Economics” is a study of the impact of crises on the international financial system and on how they might be prevented in the future.
No fans of the free market, the authors argue for tighter regulations on banks and riskier products such as derivatives, warning that the lessons from the recent economic turmoil and collapse have yet to be learned and that another crisis may be on the horizon.
Anthony Fensom is a freelance journalist and communications consultant.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5