In This Review

Japan: The Precarious Future
Japan: The Precarious Future
Edited by Frank Baldwin And Anne Allison
384 pp, New York University Press, 2015

This collection of lucid essays by leading experts takes stock of Japan’s many problems: extreme susceptibility to natural disasters, an aging society, the decline in permanent employment, a lack of women in the work force, excessive limits on immigration, a paralyzed energy policy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, a weak manufacturing sector, high government debt, and the rapid turnover of political leaders. All of that adds up to a fairly grim portrait. Only two chapters are moderately optimistic, noting Japan’s technological lead over China and the political system’s ability to gradually generate a stronger security posture in response to Chinese assertiveness, despite frequent changes of administration. Japan is still a formidable force in the global economy and in regional politics. Yet solutions to its problems seem to be blocked by a combination of cultural preferences and vested interests.