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[Japan Studies Now—Inter-University Center Lecture Series]
Toward a Social History of Japan’s “Lost Decades”


  • *This event has finished.
  • Lecturer: Andrew Gordon (Professor, Harvard University)
  • Date: Friday, February 6, 2015, 6:00-7:30 pm
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall*, International House of Japan
    (*The venue was changed from Lecture Hall)
  • Language: Japanese (without English interpretation)
  • Organizers: International House of Japan, Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, and Nippon Foundation
  • Admission: Free (reservations required)
A profound shift has taken place in perception of Japan (self-understanding and from outside) since the bubble burst, as well as significant change in social and economic structure and behavior. Professor Gordon’s goal is to understand and analyze these two shifts (and also those things that have not changed) and place them in a longer historical perspective.
The shift in perception moved from celebrating Japan as Number 1, with a world-beating economy, a stable political order and a society marked by middle class belonging to bemoaning Japan as an economically stagnant home of widespread social malaise, especially among youth, along with an aging population, and ever growing.
Although the rise of new forms of “precarity” is undeniable, there are significant problems in the narrative of decline over the past two decades found in many accounts. Professor Gordon will first discuss these general problems, arguing that the so-called lost decades witnessed not so much a break with the past as the acceleration of trends well underway. Then he will look in more detail at the situation of working people, especially those in what is called “non-regular” employment (hiseiki koyō), to offer a more specific example of this general point.

Andrew Gordon

Photo: Andrew Gordon
Prof. Gordon served as Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute and Chair of the Department of History at the university. Centering upon labor relations in Japan, he has been engaged in the studies of the modern history of Japan as well as economic and cultural history. His publications include The Wages of Affluence: Labor and Management in Postwar Japan (Harvard University Press, 1998) and Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan (University of California Press, 2011). He is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun in 2014 and is currently researching in Japan as a Japan Foundation Research Fellow at International Research Center for Japanese Studies.

*This lecture series is part of the Nippon Foundation Fellows Program at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies.