Japan Among the Powers, 1890-1990


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Sydney Giffard

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This absorbing book, written by an author who lived in and studied Japan for many years, provides a fresh perspective on Japan's history, politics, and culture over the past hundred years. It traces Japan's phenomenal development into one of the world's great powers, portraying events in Japan and its rapid industrialization as they were shaped by Japanese decision makers rather than as they were perceived by the outside world.

Beginning in 1890, the year in which the country's first modern constitution came into being and the Imperial Diet was first convened, Sydney Giffard describes Japan's determination to gain an equal place with the dominant nations of the West. He examines the complex interplay of forces underlying economic development through the century during peace and war, analyzing the conflicts and contradictions, as well as the achievements. Recognizing the role of individuals in the development of modern Japan, he includes insights into many important leaders—from those who directed comprehensive national transformation at the start of the century to those who inspired economic recovery after World War II. He concludes by analyzing the demand for political reform in Japan up to the spring of 1992 and commenting on its implications for Japan's future as a world power.

Sydney Giffard served as a diplomat in Japan during four separate periods between 1952 and 1986, and was British Ambassador to Tokyo from 1984 to 1986. He is an honorary fellow of Wadham College, Oxford University.

"[Giffard] has been an intimate observer of the Japanese scene from 1952 onwards, as diplomat, linguist and translator of Japanese literature, and his account of this period is full of illuminating insights into the character of the politicians and the significance of their policies. . . . Written stylishly and with authority, this study offers an admirable commentary on a country which, after a century of ups and downs, is still finding its way towards its place among the powers."—Ian Nish, Sunday Telegraph

"Giffard's is a clear, well-written account of Japan since the country's first western-style constitution and first Diet in 1890. He handles complicated issues in a straightforward and enlightening way."—J.E. Hoare, Pacific Review

"A significant contribution to the broader body of knowledge about the rise of Japan as a modern power."—Drew Gerstle, Times Literary Supplement

"An informative survey. . . . A very insightful account of Japan's determined drive to gain an equal footing with the dominant nations of the West. . . . Absolutely a must for any college and university library as well as for major public libraries."—Choice

"An intelligent and informative introduction to modern Japan's foreign relations. . . . The book has value and charm as a concise, balanced and highly readable account of the forces moving Japan's foreign policy."—David Arase, Journal of Asian Studies

"His ability to make objective judgments and to analyse clearly the complexities of the Japanese scene is demonstrated in this well-researched and balanced survey. His style is polished and his insights are sharp. Giffard does his best to elucidate and trace the changing fortunes of the individuals and factions. Giffard's book ably sets the scene against which we can judge developments in Japan in the 1990s."—Hugh Cortazzi, Times Higher Education Supplement

"An elegantly written and effectively presented survey of Japan's 'century among the powers.'"—Hilary Conroy, American Academy of Political and Social Science

"A classic example of clear writing and the quest for historical description. . . . A clear, concise, and precise narration of 100 years of policy making in Japan. This book is a survey, a gentle and effective review of familiar English language materials. Sections of the book would be useful for undergraduate of high school survey courses or as an introduction to modern Japan's political history."—James Ketelaar, The Historian

"Sydney Giffard, a former British ambassador to Japan, has written a fine introduction to the history of Japanese foreign affairs since the 1890s. Based on a good many scholarly monographs as well as general accounts in English and in Japanese, the author presents a balanced, judicious story of the shifts and turns in Japan's position among the powers."—Akira Iriye, The Historian
ISBN: 9780300068917
Publication Date: May 29, 1997
240 pages, 6 x 9