Through a Concave Mirror: A Deconstruction of the American Myth of Japan

Bayne, Jessica

"This article can explore only a bit of the American ideology which is reflected in the current fascination with Japan, beginning with the premise that Japan has become an ideological image. What Americans understand of Japan (in popular rather than academic circles) is not contextualized as part of Japan's history, social hierarchy, or cultural system; rather, these symbols are used to define the Japanese as culturally and socially aberrant when compared to the American standard. Focal points in this discussion of the Japanese include emphasis on long work weeks, quiescence of Japanese labor, and the relative homogeneity of the labor force with the idea that prevailing American assumptions about Japanese labor do not present an accurate picture of the Japanese reality. Instead, they seem to expose an American preoccupation with American labor. The search for cultural reasons for Japanese success is obscure. To Americans, Japanese are the perverts of Michael Crichton's Rising Sun, while at the same time strange echoes of the 1950s in America. It is as if Americans can only accept the 1950s image of a successful Cold War economic power. The social structure, "family values," and work ethic of that past success were the basis of US economic success."--from page 1

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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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February 14, 2014