Macarthur's Japanese Constitution: A Linguistic And Cultural Study Of Its Making

In This Review

Macarthur's Japanese Constitution: A Linguistic And Cultural Study Of Its Making

By Kyoko Inoue
University of Chicago Press, 1991
378 pp. $39.95
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In February 1948 General Douglas MacArthur presented the Japanese government with a new constitution for its country, written by his headquarters in ten days. Difficulties in the translation of the document by the Japanese brought out all the differences between the two countries on such basic questions as the relationship between the state and the people, religious freedom, the status of the emperor and the equality of the sexes in marriage. According to the author, the cultural and linguistic barriers were never overcome. Today the American text conforms with our political and cultural traditions, while the Japanese translation is congenial to that nation's values. Indeed, there is little agreement on the fundamental meaning of key clauses of the constitution. This is a fascinating book for serious students of Japan and cross-cultural problems.

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