The emergence of Japan as a political and economic global power has been one of the most remarkable success stories of modern history. Though small in geographic area, the archipelago is the tenth most populous country, with 128 million inhabitants crowded into an area the size of Montana. Its natural resources are almost nonexistent, yet today it ranks only second after the much larger United States as the most affluent and economically productive nation in the world. Its rich cultural heritage and high-tech society are equally vibrant. For all readers wanting to better understand this dynamic country, this popular and accessible introduction offers an authoritative yet concise overview of two thousand years of Japanese history. Now fully updated to the present, this edition also includes an array of photographs and illustrations. The first half of the book explores the pre-Meiji era up to 1868. The second half traces domestic changes and relevant foreign issues in the modernizing era launched by the Meiji Restoration. Highlighting key historical events, Milton W. Meyer also includes cultural, artistic, and religious milestones.
Summaries and datelines at the end of each chapter, as well as a glossary, offer additional essential reference points. With its clear explanations of Japanese traditions, religion, history, economics, politics, and relations with the West, this book provides an invaluable guide for understanding contemporary Japan.
Milton W. Meyer is professor emeritus of history at California State University, Los Angeles.