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Cantankerous Essays: Musings of a Disillusioned Japanophile
by Ronald Dore
Amsterdam University Press, 2015
eISBN: 978-1-898823-32-2

Prompted by increasing evidence of the world’s shift to the right, not least among the industrialised nations, here is a cri de coeur from almost the last survivor from the post-war crop of European sociologists and scholars of Japanese Studies. After six decades following developments in Japanese society, economy and culture and as a well-known ‘leftie’ – he describes the evolution of his cognitive and evaluative/emotional perceptions of Japan, and explains why he can no longer be described as a Japanophile. To which are added essays on more general issues of the day, such as events in the Ukraine, Iran and Israel. The key words are indeed ‘cantankerous’ (because he is greatly exercised by the ‘conspiracies of silence’ embedded in the culture of modern political and public life); ‘musings’ (because this is not so much a single-focus monograph, rather a collection of spontaneous, but deeply-considered reflections on matters of the moment) and ‘disillusioned’ (both by Japan’s reversion to chauvinistic nationalism, and because, as a youth, he hoped for and expected an enhancement of the role of reason in international affairs.) This will be of special interest to all who know or have accessed the author’s vast literary output relating to Japan; but it also has considerably wider relevance among those who are in any way connected with contemporary society, politics and economics and wish to confront the ‘conspiracy of silence’ within our interdependent world.

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