Every Human Intention: Japan in the New Century

Pantheon. Feb. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781101871119. $28. POL SCI
Outside the latest season of Terrace House on Netflix, North America’s access to stories from inside Japan can often feel stuck in the past. Richard attempts to close this gap with his first collection of essays that look at events in post-Fukushima Japan. The lengthy collection dives into three important policy matters often ignored by the outside world: immigration, population decline, and the nuclear industry. In the first third of the book, Richard follows Nigerian immigrants through the restrictive visa system. He then travels north to explore the dying cities in the sparsely populated island of Hokkaido. The book ends with an extremely detailed exposé on the politics behind Japan Atomic Power Company’s safety record. While the book presents a Japan that few foreigners ever see, the drama of Nigerian men managing two families on different continents gives way to what amounts to a forensics report on the politics and management of post-Fukushima power plants.
VERDICT The subject matter provides a rare view into Japan, but the lack of transitions makes the three sections feel isolated, and the last section of the book will only appeal to those who want exhaustive reporting on Japan’s nuclear power industry. Purchase where there is interest.
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