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Globalization in Asia

Globalization In Modern Japan

Following World War II, Japan's inventive role in communication technologies enhanced global perspectives on Japan itself. The exportation of cultural artifacts from Tokugawa's era sees a parallel in the technological products of computers, VCRs, and videocassette tapes in the early twenty-first century. Not only these technologies but their contents are part of Japan's changing role in globalization. Koichi Iwabuchi describes Japan's ironic return to Asia after a long hiatus following defeat in World War II:

Japan and Asia tend to be discussed and perceived within Japan as two separate geographies, whose inherent contradiction is unquestioned. Japan is unequivocally located in a geography called 'Asia,' but it no less unambiguously exists outside a cultural imaginary of 'Asia' in Japanese mental maps. (p. 7)

Iwabuchi maintains that "the West" became a positive role model for Japanese culture, while "Asia" receded into a negative mystical hallucination. He writes: "In prewar Japan, Japanization was articulated in the term kominka, which means 'the assimilation of ethnic others (such as Ainu, Okinawans, Taiwanese, and Koreans) into a Japanese imperial citizenship under the Emperor's benevolence.' Japanization also referred to the indigenization and domestication of foreign (Western) culture. The famous slogan 'wakon yosai' (Japanese spirit, Western technologies) exemplifies the latter usage" (Iwabuchi, p. 9). In a global context, Japanization involves the adaptation of both American and Asian products, customs, and idea systems to a Japanese cultural landscape. With the end of the Cold War and the emergence of economy and culture under a revitalized Chinese aegis, Japan once again searches for an identity within Asia.

Japanese popular culture illustrates a response to American influences. With an inundation of American cultural icons, Japan responds defensively with the global going local or the global in the local. A typical case of this is the Japanese anime (animated cartoons) of Miyazaki Hayao. Although overwhelmed with the Western-style action of sword and sorcery on the surface, Miyazaki plummets to the depth of Chinese and ancient Japanese philosophy, religion, and folklore. Princess Mononoke (Mononoke hime) is an epic-style film of individual dueling and massive battle scenes that appeals to Western audiences. Yet it also explores relationships between Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism against a backdrop of Nihonshoki (Chronicle of Japan) and Kojiki (Record of ancient matters) that are Japanese equivalents of Greek and Roman myths. Similarly Spirited Away (Sen to chihiro no kamikakushi) is an American dreamscape of a child's day at an amusement park. Yet it also explores relationships between Shinto and Confucian interpretations of a Buddhist hell. Rather than be overrun by Western sensibilities alone, Japan recycles them into the themes of the ancient Asian world. Looking for the roots of Japanese philosophy and culture in the Chinese world is a trend of scholarship encouraged by the Japanese government in the last decade.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Gastrula to Glow dischargeGlobalization in Asia - Asian Views Of Globalization, The Global Village, Definitions Of Globalization: West And East, Globalization In Classical China