Tag Archives: japanese history

Japan’s New Prime Minister, and the Shrine to War Criminals

 

Meet Yoshihiko Noda, who will officially become “Prime Minister Noda” in three days. I always prefer to stay away from politics here, but an election of the highest authority in the country is a valid exception. I’m not going to get into his political plans, like how he might raise taxes to help pay for the tsunami reconstruction (which is really the same thing as giving to charity, except they don’t ask for permission). But it may be helpful to know who he is, how he got here, and what the deal is with this “shrine to war criminals.”

Posted in Biographical, Culture, Japan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Japan Losing its Culture? – Part 1: A History of Cultural Adoption

I want to talk about the problem I usually find when non-Japanese people talk about Japanese culture, which is that they generalize too much. They make sweeping statements that are inherently too loaded to be anything but false. This is usually because they approach Japan through the lens of their own culture – the etic approach, in anthropological terms. Japan can only possibly be understood in the greater Japanese context – one that considers its history, and its interaction with other nations. Making a statement like “Japan is very ________, and here’s my anecdote…” is an approach doomed to failure. For example, I often hear complaints that Japan is becoming highly Westernized, or more specifically, Americanized. A big concern is that they’re losing their culture. …But is it true? Is Japan losing its culture?

Posted in Culture, Japan | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments