The Modernization of an Ancient Culture: Preface

Japan: The Modernization of an Ancient Culture
by Lawrence C. Wolken


I am indebted to the Keizai Koho Center and the National Council for the Social Studies for sponsoring an annual program which makes it possible for American educators to visit Japan. I feel privileged to have been selected as a member of the group which visited Japan during the summer of 1982. The information presented in this booklet reflects my experiences in Japan and the research conducted since my return to the United States. Because it is impossible to describe all important facets of a nation in a single booklet of this size, I have chosen to focus on Japan’s economic system. To properly do so, however, its social, political and education systems and Japan’s rich history of cultural traditions must also be understood.
Perhaps the most valuable experience of my trip was the realization that we Americans know very little about life in other parts of the world. We tend to think that the American way is not only the right way but the only way. In reality, there are a wide variety of points of view. And it is not necessarily true that one is right and the others are wrong. There are simply many different ways of looking at things. IN spite of the simplifications which had to be made and the numerous topics which are not covered here, this booklet attempts to convey my impressions of contemporary Japan. Hopefully it will enable the reader to more accurately place Japan in perspective on the international scene, encourage a recognition of mutually shared problems, and generate fruitful discussions of these problems. An inevitable result of learning more about others is a better understanding of ourselves.