What a strange pattern to find in a book. The first 264 pp. are good enough but not exceptional and at times boring through being overly familiar. The last two chapters I found to be a brilliant treatment of recent Japanese politics through the lens of public choice models, probably the best since Karel von Wolferen’s The Enigma of Japanese Power.
Have you wondered what distinguishes the regime of one Japanese prime minister from another? Which are the different interest groups for and against the consumption tax hike and why? What accounts for the initial failure and then later resurgence of Abe? What role does Okinawa play in broader Japanese politics? Which kinds of regular struggles are played out between the elected officials and the bureaucrats? What does a sentence like this mean?: “The people around Abe wanted, finally, to stamp out forever the ghost of Tanaka Kakuei.”
How many other books rise to “superb” status but only through their last two chapters?
You can order the book here. It came out in December 2014 but will make my best books of 2015 list for sure. For the initial pointer to this book I wish to thank Jim Olds.