Showa Japan: The Post-war Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy

Date: Thursday 26 November 2009
Venue: Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13 – 14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP.
Tel: 020 7486 4348
Organiser: The Daiwa AngloJapanese Foundation

Japan’s Showa era began in 1926 when Emperor Hirohito took the throne and ended on his death in 1989. It was undoubtedly the most momentous, calamitous, successful and glamorous period in Japan’s recent history. The post-war part of Showa is now a beacon of nostalgia for its social cohesion and great economic achievements. But the Showa era ended in a bubble – a time of wild spending and excesses in every field. With the collapse of the boom in the early 1990s, the people came face to face with new economic and social realities they were not prepared for. In Showa Japan author Hans Brinckmann, who first came to live in Japan in 1950, examines the impact of the Showa era and its aftermath on every aspect of Japanese society. Instead of idealizing the past and yielding to intermittent reactionary efforts to restore pre-war values, he argues that the country needs to stimulate independent thinking in education, encourage active citizenship, facilitate immigration and repair relations with its Asian neighbours by squarely facing up to history. Most crucially, the nation’s sclerotic political system needs rejuvenation and the stimulus of hard debate to reduce the power of vested interests and tackle the many challenges facing the country.

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