Research - Books


Researching Twenty-First Century Japan

new directions and approaches for the electronic age


Iles, T. and Matanle, P. (eds.) (2012) Researching Twenty-First Century Japan: New Directions and Approaches for the Electronic Age, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Published: January 2012.
ISBN 9780739170144; 16 Chapters, 394pp.

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Reviewed by Ken Coates in Pacific Affairs

Researching Twenty-First Century Japan brings to print for the first time a rich selection of stimulating and informative essays gleaned from the digital pages of ejcjs, the electronic journal of contemporary Japanese studies. Editors Iles and Matanle have done a superb job of compiling a valuable collection of essays showcasing the research of a global network of scholars whose expertise ranges across the disciplines, from the social sciences to literary and cultural studies, demonstrating a wealth of new approaches to the study of contemporary Japan.  Offering new vistas on major issues in contemporary Japan Studies – soft power, hybridization, social marketing, globalization, mobile technologies, popular culture and more – this volume is sure to open fresh perspectives on global culture and in turn promote discussion and dialogue among scholars and students in many disciplines.
Professor Janice Brown, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Researching Twenty-First Century Japan brings together 15 of the best papers published in the journal’s first ten years. It is, appropriately, a very eclectic collection, with papers on such diverse topics as municipal mergers and manga, political financing scandals and Buddhist priests. Readers looking for a full set of wide ranging explorations of modern Japan will find informative and insightful essays. ... This book provides important insights about contemporary scholarly publishing. It reveals the depth and range of ejcjs’s intellectual contributions. ... Together, ejcjs and Researching Twenty-First Century Japan demonstrate the potential, achievements and unrealized opportunities of e-journals. ... this collection is a very good representation of the contributions that ejcjs has made and continues to make to modern Japan studies. The richness of the papers leads one to wish ejcjs all the best for continued good health and to make us all look forward to the next print collection of the 'best of' this useful e-journal.
Professor Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation, University of Regina, in Pacific Affairs.


Book Summary

Researching Twenty-First Century Japan brings together fifteen extensively revised, peer-reviewed articles by international scholars covering a diverse range of fields—from cinema to economics to history to the social sciences—addressing issues in contemporary Japan. These fifteen are all contributors to the first ten years of the EJCJS—the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies. The principal strengths of this volume are its diversity of approaches and its fundamentally interdisciplinary nature: it allows researchers in different fields to contribute to an overall understanding of Japan from the 1950s to the present. This ‘understanding’ is indeed comprehensive: chapters range from economics to politics to theatre, literature, immigration issues, religion, and multiculturalism. The chapters are uniformly precise in their analyses, drawing on many different forms of research, from textual analysis, historical documentation, linguistic analysis, to participant interviews and media studies.
 
The diverse range of subject matter holds together around a core set of values: the primacy of practical research over theory; the centrality of Japan even in studies which situate that country internationally; clarity of expression over jargon; and the desire to include readers through rhetorical care rather than exclude through esoteric applications of over-specialised terminology or assumptions. The chapters, while academic and informed by current scholarship, are accessible to general readers with interest in contemporary Japan.
 
The volume distinguishes itself as a highly readable, pertinent compendium of scholarship on contemporary Japan, and demonstrates to its readership the ways in which diverse aspects of contemporary Japan interlock. Aspects of contemporary religion show the influence of current economic conditions, while questions of Japanese identity reflect immigration issues and aspects of multiculturalism, while emerging in contemporary Japanese forms of mobile communication and linguistic change.
 
Japan emerges as a complex, interwoven whole in this volume, but a whole which, as the chapters demonstrate, is amenable to scholarship from both insider and ‘outsider’ alike. The international contributors all have equal merit and equal voice here, to give a true multidisciplinary portrait of this intricate, culturally, historically, and economically vital nation.