Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan (review)

Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan (review) Review Section phenomena of various kinds. As he puts it, "the `environment' in Japan, while offering numerous facets that shed light on other parts of the world, nevertheless remains intensely Japanese" (p. 193). Yet herein lies the rub. Kirby fails in three ways to make a convincing case for this "intensely Japanese" environment. First, he never clearly articulates which characteristics, in his view, comprise this distinctively Japanese approach. It is perfectly imaginable that such a culturally distinctive approach exists (indeed, it would be surprising if it did not), but what precisely is it? Second, Kirby does not map the connections among his central concepts of "environment," "waste," and "pollution" through an immanent analysis of Japanese culture. Instead, Troubled Natures relies on Englishlanguage concepts and uses English words to link Japanese ideas and practices even though the author acknowledges that Japanese often lacks an exact counterpart. Not until page 95 is there any discussion of the Japanese words for "waste" which appear only in a footnote (p. 210). Since the book's goal is to persuade readers that Japan's disparate troubles can best be understood through the matrix of environmental concerns, the concrete and conceptual connections within this matrix need http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Japanese Studies Society for Japanese Studies

Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan (review)

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Publisher
Society for Japanese Studies
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Japanese Studies.
ISSN
1549-4721
Publisher site
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Abstract

Review Section phenomena of various kinds. As he puts it, "the `environment' in Japan, while offering numerous facets that shed light on other parts of the world, nevertheless remains intensely Japanese" (p. 193). Yet herein lies the rub. Kirby fails in three ways to make a convincing case for this "intensely Japanese" environment. First, he never clearly articulates which characteristics, in his view, comprise this distinctively Japanese approach. It is perfectly imaginable that such a culturally distinctive approach exists (indeed, it would be surprising if it did not), but what precisely is it? Second, Kirby does not map the connections among his central concepts of "environment," "waste," and "pollution" through an immanent analysis of Japanese culture. Instead, Troubled Natures relies on Englishlanguage concepts and uses English words to link Japanese ideas and practices even though the author acknowledges that Japanese often lacks an exact counterpart. Not until page 95 is there any discussion of the Japanese words for "waste" which appear only in a footnote (p. 210). Since the book's goal is to persuade readers that Japan's disparate troubles can best be understood through the matrix of environmental concerns, the concrete and conceptual connections within this matrix need

Journal

The Journal of Japanese StudiesSociety for Japanese Studies

Published: Feb 1, 2012

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