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1月に出たDavid Pillingさんの『Bending Adversity』がニューヨクタイムズの書評に登場していました。津波や放射能が取り上げられる映画ゴジラに合わせてこの本が紹介されているというのは考え過ぎでしょうか。。。

著者のDavid PillingさんはBookReviewのPodcastに登場して話してくれています。

ニューヨクタイムズの書評では誰が書評を書いているのか?も重要です。日事情通でもあるAtlanticのJames Fallowsさんがこの本を担当しています。

Rising Sun
‘Bending Adversity,’ by David Pilling

Three years ago this March, a 9-­magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever known to hit Japan, created a tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people outright, displaced hundreds of thousands more and removed entire villages from the map. By triggering the failure of the Fukushima nuclear plant, it also left the landscape contaminated and led to Japan’s curtailing of its nuclear-power system.

I was living in Beijing when the quake hit, and I saw Chinese coverage shift from its normal churlish outlook on Japan to growing respect for the stoic discipline with which its people bore hardship. One photo ran on TV and front pages across China. It was an aerial shot of the Japanese, very young to very old, forming a long, snaking but always orderly line for disaster supplies. The amazed Chinese reaction was: Imagine a society in which people would patiently wait their turn for hours rather than rushing pell-mell to the front.

David Pilling, who from 2002 through 2008 was The Financial Times’s bureau chief in Tokyo, also learned of the earthquake in Beijing, his new post. He quickly returned to Japan to report on the disaster and its consequences. He conceived of this book, whose ambition, he says, is “to create a portrait of a stubbornly resistant nation with a history of overcoming successive waves of adversity.”


The ground-zero disaster reporting will command the attention of any reader. ­Pilling vividly recreates the waves of ­different sorts of destruction. First the earthquake itself, which “went on for a time-stopping six minutes.” Then the tsunami, which was not the single cresting “Great Wave” famous from Hokusai prints but a rise in sea level of as much as 130 feet in some ­areas. Pilling describes a multistory gymnasium where towns­people were waiting out the tsunami. Water filled the building, and more than 60 people were trapped and drowned. Pilling arrived in Tohoku in time to witness the next stage, in which survivors walked across a flattened landscape searching for any sign of the people, belongings, entire neighborhoods that had disappeared. For me, these scenes powerfully recall John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” — and although the causes were obviously different, in each case the longest-lasting source of damage came from radiation.


The analytical chapters between these opening and closing sections include some dutiful survey history of Japan’s long record of warily attempting to embrace, and then fearfully or resentfully backing away from, a series of outside powers. The first was China; then the colonial-era, industrialized West that had brought the rest of Asia under its control; then through the past 60-plus years, Japan’s conqueror and ally, the United States; and recently its neighbors in Asia. Most of the themes and illustrations here are familiar, from Japan’s fetish for its uniqueness — “British rain and Japanese rain are quite ­different,” a professor in Tokyo tells Pilling — to the consequences of its post-World War II strategy of “embracing defeat,” which was the title of John W. Dower’s celebrated 1999 book on that subject.

Japan declineは神話に過ぎないというPillingの主張は、日本人には嬉しい事ですね。

The first, and probably the most surprising for American readers, is that after its decades of “failure” and stagnation, modern Japan is a rich, creature-comfortable, economic and technological powerhouse. China has recently passed it in total output, but with a 10-times-larger population. Japan’s economy is the third-largest in the world, the size of Britain’s and France’s economies combined. Japan’s car companies, Pilling reminds us, are “now considered the best in the world.” In almost any advanced industry, from biotechnology to electronics to aerospace, crucial components come from Japanese firms. “They talk about Japan’s decline,” a Japanese friend tells Pilling. “But there’s no potholes on the street, there’s good quality cars, no violence, clean air. It’s O.K.”