Japan and Its World: Two Centuries of Change

In This Review

Japan and Its World: Two Centuries of Change

By Marius B. Jansen
Princeton University Press, 1981
128 pp. $9.50
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In a short, readable essay directed to a general audience, one of the West's leading historians on Japan probes the evolution of the Japanese world view during the past two centuries. Jansen is particularly interesting on how the Japanese have, until recently, seen the world as a hierarchy with countries ranked in order of esteem and importance. But there are no longer model states for Japan; the United States is doubtless still at the top of the list but "the limitations of its power and wisdom have been shown." While agreeing with those who see a growing national self-consciousness in Japan, especially among the young, he believes that "Japan's hundred-year effort for recognition has been successful" and that the forces for moderation in Japan will be stronger than those for militarism. Although he foresees a "degree of disengagement from the U.S. tie" as a precondition for its continuation, he believes the U.S.-Japanese relationship to be quite successful and he sees "very limited" options for any Japanese realignment.