In Bending Adversity, Financial Times Asia
editor David Pilling presents a fresh vision of Japan, drawing on his own deep
experience, as well as observations from a cross section of Japanese citizenry,
including novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi,
industrialists and bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octogenarians.
Through their voices, Pilling captures the dynamism and diversity of
Pilling’s exploration begins with the 2011 triple
disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. His deep reporting
reveals both Japan’s vulnerabilities and its resilience and pushes him to
understand the country’s past through cycles of crisis and reconstruction.
Japan’s survivalist mentality has carried it through tremendous hardship, but
is also the source of great destruction: it was the nineteenth-century struggle
to ward off colonial intent that resulted in Japan’s own imperial endeavor,
culminating in the devastation of World War II. Even the postwar economic
miracle—the manufacturing and commerce explosion that brought unprecedented
economic growth and earned Japan international clout might have been a less
pure victory than it seemed. In Bending Adversity Pilling questions what
was lost in the country’s blind, aborted climb to number one. With the same
rigor, he revisits 1990—the year the economic bubble burst, and the beginning
of Japan’s “lost decades”—to ask if the turning point might be viewed
differently. While financial struggle and national debt are a reality,
post-growth Japan has also successfully maintained a stable standard of living
and social cohesion. And while life has become less certain, opportunities—in
particular for the young and for women—have diversified.
Still, Japan is in many ways a country in recovery,
working to find a way forward after the events of 2011 and decades of slow
growth. Bending Adversity closes with a reflection on what the 2012
reelection of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his radical antideflation policy,
might mean for Japan and its future. Informed throughout by the insights shared
by Pilling’s many interview subjects, Bending Adversity rigorously
engages with the social, spiritual, financial, and political life of Japan to
create a more nuanced representation of the oft-misunderstood island nation and
its people. Download and start listening now!