SOAS University of London

SOAS historian champions importance of today’s Japan

1 February 2013
Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble by Christopher Gerteis and Timothy S. George

A new collection of essays, edited by SOAS historian Dr Christopher Gerteis, reasserts the contemporary global importance of the East Asian nation.

Published by Bloomsbury, Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble examines the historical context and the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of Japan's post-war development.

The turmoil of recent Japanese history have led some pundits, politicians, businessmen and even academics to publicly wonder whether Japan's significance is starting to wane. However, the essays in this collection re-engage earlier discourses and introduce new veins of research to challenge this notion.

Commenting on the release, Dr Gerteis said: “Japan matters. It was the first non-Western nation to have a constitution and to industrialise. It avoided being colonised and became a colonial power itself. It plunged into a devastating war that killed tens of millions in East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and ended with Japan as the first and only nation to suffer the horrors of nuclear warfare.

Japan Since 1945 provides a much needed update to existing scholarly work on the history of contemporary Japan. It moves beyond the 'lost decade' and 'terrible devastation' frameworks that have thus far defined too much of the discussion, offering a more nuanced picture of the nation's postwar development.”

Dr Gerteis is an expert on the social and cultural history of Japan from 1600 to the present and the series editor of the SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan, a peer-reviewed series of reasonably priced scholarly books published by Bloomsbury.

Japan Since 1945 has been described as an “excellent interdisciplinary collection of essays on ‘postwar’ Japan from 1945 to 2011,” by Prof Carol Gluck of Columbia University. She praises it, “not only for its fascinating glimpses of Japanese society, economy and culture, but also for the comparative light it implicitly sheds on other advanced capitalist societies and their not always acknowledged arcs of uneven historical change.”

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