Ominous demographic trends, ineffective governance, the not-if-but-when prospect of another devastating earthquake ... the litany of topics addressed by "Japan: The Precarious Future" will already be familiar to readers of this newspaper. A collection of essays from specialists in relevant fields, the book offers a sobering one-volume summary of where Japan stands — or rather, stood a couple of years ago. Chapters were written between 2012 and 2014, so its coverage of some fast-moving topics already feels outdated. This isn't the fault of the authors, of course, but since the book's forecast horizon was only three to five years into the future to begin with, time is not on its side.