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In the boom years of the 1980s, most Japanese — the often-quoted figure was 90% — identified as middle class. Meanwhile, Japan’s prewar aristocracy had seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth.

Today, as Yukiko Sode’s “Aristocrats” shows with precision and insight, the Japanese upper class continues to rule the top rungs of business, politics and society, its byways only dimly glimpsed by those below.

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