In the course of the past two decades Japan's power to affect the rest of our planet has grown at an astonishing rate. The global reach of Japanese industry and finance and the transformative impact of Japanese technology have been felt in almost every country. Yet Japan remains an enigma to most people, inspiring unease and distrust in addition to admiration and curiosity. In part this is because Japan has faced more formidable barriers to the export of its cultural, artistic, and intellectual accomplishments than it has to the products of its industries. Even today, the volume of information on Japan that reaches other countries is pitifully small in comparison to the need.
This encyclopedia is an attempt to redress this imbalance. It is conceived as a single, comprehensive resource that will give the interested reader a key to unlocking the complex society of late-20th-century Japan. It contains a wealth of hard data on Japanese politics, government, economics, and corporate behavior, but it is also a treasury of Japanese art, culture, and history and a guide to the more subtle traditions that have shaped Japanese life and thought through the centuries. Our hope is that this encyclopedia will serve not only as a ready reference for those seeking specific information but also as an enjoyable and instructive tool for those who wish to add depth and perspective to their image of Japan and the Japanese.
The Encyclopedia of Japan CD-ROM has its own history of course, and a word here seems appropriate. This digital reference work is based on Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, published in 1993. It contains almost all of the 11,000 main-text entries of that book, thousands of which have been updated to reflect changes occurring in the 1990s. There are also over 150 totally new entries on notable people, companies, events, trends, etc., of the last decade. The main-text entries range in length from 50 words to more than 4,000 and cover every area of Japanese culture and society from prehistory to contemporary science and technology. They are the work of some 1,400 scholars and specialists from Japan and 27 other countries as well as an international editorial staff.
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