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Home > Books & Journals > Book Review Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Book Review #50: February 6, 2003

"Global Change: A Japanese Perspective" by Takashi Inoguchi

Reviewed by Takahiro Miyao

Title: Global Change: A Japanese Perspective
Author: Takashi Inoguchi
Publisher: Palgrave
Date/Time: 2001
Pages: English text 288 pages (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-333-71920-4


We all are familiar with the term "dialectics" in Marxian literature, but never expect the use of this term, let alone its application, in a U.S.-trained political scientist's serious writing. That is exactly what the author has done to analyze global change in the late twentieth century in this volume.

First, the author focuses three "metaphors," and suggests that the first metaphor might correspond to the phase of "the end of the Cold War and U.S. military supremacy," the second to the phase of "the end of geography and the disappearing tyranny of distance," and the third to the phase of "the end of history and the triumph of capitalist democracy." In his dialectic approach, the author emphasizes the internal contradictions and underlying conflicts of social forces in each phase, that is, the dialectical processes between global phenomena and opposing forces to them in those phases.

More specifically, the first phase involves the ambivalence between U.S. military primacy and the decline of its economic competitiveness to support military supremacy. The second phase involves the tension between globalization and deregulation on the one hand, and the protectionist and regionalist forces that resist such trends on the other. The third phase produces the ambivalence between liberal democratization and the consequent anxiety concerning social instability.

In conclusion, by referring to his 1989 article on four scenarios for the future, the author has picked the scenario of Pax Americana II, meaning the image of the U.S. retaining its leading position in the world, to overcome internal contradictions, at least for a while, whereas the most desirable scenario, according to the author, may be Pax Consortis with major actors forming coalitions to make policy adjustment and agreements among themselves in a pluralistic world.

Having read this insightful book focusing on the late twentieth century, the reader might well be tempted to apply this dialectic approach to shed some light on the meaning of the series of events in the beginning of the twenty first century, including the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent U.S. military action in the Middle East. The former could be regarded as a manifestation of the internal contradiction of Pax Americana II, and the latter as a major divisive factor, leading to serious conflicts within the international community.

As the author suggests, Pax Consortis might emerge as the only alternative, or the so-called "synthesis," in dialectic terms, only after the development of a serious division between the U.S. and its followers including Japan, on the one hand, and those countries that oppose U.S. control over the future of the Middle East on the other (see John de Boer's report, "A Divided Europe" :

The following is from the publisher's website:

Main Description:
This book examines global change from a dialectical perspective. Looking at global change in terms of unipolarization in international security, globalization in the world economy, and democratization in global governance, this volume provides a refreshingly Japanese angle on addressing complex interplays between the social forces underlying these themes.

Part I: A Dialectical Approach

  • Global Change
  • The End of the Cold War
  • International Security
  • The End of Geography
  • The End of History

Part II: Japan Adrift

  • The End of the Cold War: The U.S.-Japanese Alliances
  • The End of Geography
  • The End of History
  • Agendas for Japanese Foreign Policy

Part III: A Global Perspective

  • International Security
  • The World Economy
  • Domestic Governance
  • Towards the Third Millennium


Appendix: Four Japanese Scenarios for the Future

Author Biography:
Takashi Inoguchi is Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

A list of Professor Inoguchi's books (in English) is available at:

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