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How Japan must pity the land of the setting sun

Niall Ferguson
 

By Niall Ferguson (Original source Boston Globe)

“Despite the bitter war they fought in the 1940s, Japan and Britain (my native country) have much in common. Both are archipelagos off the vast Eurasian landmass. Both are among the most densely populated countries in the world. Both were once mighty empires. Both are still quite rich. Both are constitutional monarchies.

Yet while Britain today is in a state of acute political crisis, Japan seems a model of political stability. Is this a matter of personalities — the sad fact that Theresa May is a talentless leader, Shinzo Abe a gifted one? Partly. But there is more to it than that.

The Japanese, crushed in 1945, conceded only a superficial Americanization of their culture and institutions. To a remarkable extent, Japan did not change. It merely jettisoned the hysterical nationalism that had come to the fore in the 1930s. Not only did the Emperor survive, but so did the country’s social elite. They accepted land reform but retained political power.”

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