Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival

Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival - David Pilling Pilling, a journalist for the Financial Times, unsurprisingly concentrates in large parts on the economics of Japan and links this with the political desire of the Japanese since the Mejii Restoration to be recognised as a world power on an equal footing with ‘the west’. For Pilling the atrocities of the 2nd world war, both carried out by Japan and directed at Japan are a direct consequence of Japan wishing to be a world power and not to be subsumed and humiliated by some other empire as it neighbours had been (though Pilling is certainly no apologist). After World War 2, having completely failed on that front and with a freshly written pacifist constitution, Japan turned to economics, wanting to become the ‘number 1’ economy in the world. After 1990 and the crash that has left Japan in a deflationary funk (though still an economy bigger than the UK and France combined) many commentators have written Japan off. But Japan is, and has proven many times, that it is a survivor and it may be showing signs of a return – despite, and maybe even in part as a consequence, the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Bending Adversity, is a bit of a mixed narrative of the Japanese soul, which is OK, since the Japanese seem to defy analysis in strict categories. The mixture of touching stories, political commentary, humour and history, I found compelling, fascinating, and entirely in line with my own experience only far more articulately and concisely put.