Recentering Globalization

Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism

Recentering Globalization

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 7 illus. Published: November 2002

Author: Koichi Iwabuchi

Asian Studies, Globalization and Neoliberalism, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Globalization is usually thought of as the worldwide spread of Western—particularly American—popular culture. Yet if one nation stands out in the dissemination of pop culture in East and Southeast Asia, it is Japan. Pokémon, anime, pop music, television dramas such as Tokyo Love Story and Long Vacation—the export of Japanese media and culture is big business. In Recentering Globalization, Koichi Iwabuchi explores how Japanese popular culture circulates in Asia. He situates the rise of Japan’s cultural power in light of decentering globalization processes and demonstrates how Japan’s extensive cultural interactions with the other parts of Asia complicate its sense of being "in but above" or "similar but superior to" the region.

Iwabuchi has conducted extensive interviews with producers, promoters, and consumers of popular culture in Japan and East Asia. Drawing upon this research, he analyzes Japan’s "localizing" strategy of repackaging Western pop culture for Asian consumption and the ways Japanese popular culture arouses regional cultural resonances. He considers how transnational cultural flows are experienced differently in various geographic areas by looking at bilateral cultural flows in East Asia. He shows how Japanese popular music and television dramas are promoted and understood in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and how "Asian" popular culture (especially Hong Kong’s) is received in Japan.

Rich in empirical detail and theoretical insight, Recentering Globalization is a significant contribution to thinking about cultural globalization and transnationalism, particularly in the context of East Asian cultural studies.


"[A]n engaging and timely book. Its focus on Japan and Asia in the context of debates about Western-centric globalization processes is fresh and welcome. . . . [Iwabuchi] has written a fascinating, well-researched, and original book." — Matthew Allen, Journal of Asian Studies

"[Iwabuchi's] detailed discussion, articulated in terms of the latest cultural and globalization theories, is very illuminating. Offering, as it does, a challenge to the notion that 'global' really means 'the West', this book is highly recommended as course reading for both Japanese and Media Studies." — Mark McLelland , M/C Reviews

"Iwabuchi offers a powerful critique to the 'cultural imperialism' thesis by allowing for the importance of audience reception. . . . [T]his is a refreshing and original book by a Japanese intellectual. More the hope that it will speedily enter into a popular press Japanese translation." — Geoffrey C. Gunn, Journal of Contemporary Asia

"Recentering Globalization offers a rich and complex understanding of cultural flows between Japan and other parts of Asia-primarily Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore-and provides a valuable perspective on studies of globalization that have been centered around Europe and the U.S. . . . It . . . will appeal to a broad range of readers in business administration and cultural studies." — Joshua Hotaka Roth , Journal of Asian Business

“Koichi Iwabuchi has given us a uniquely fascinating and empirically rich study of cultural globalization—Japanese style—as it evolved in the last two decades of the twentieth century. Eye-opening and insightful, this is an immensely readable book, adding considerably to the growing stock of non-Western voices and perspectives in transnational cultural studies.” — Ien Ang, author of On Not Speaking Chinese: Living between Asia and the West

“This book will be one of the most important in Japan studies to come out in a long time. The author’s anaylsis, which theorizes and critiques Japan’s position as a kind of intermediary between Western and Asian pop cultural formations, and the complex will to power that is being worked out under various consumerist guises, is smart and very much needed in the Japan field.” — Karen Kelsky, author of Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams

"A very rich and subtle study. I predict that Iwabuchi´s book will quickly become a central reference in debates over the global organization of popular culture" — Ulf Hannerz, author of Transnational Connections: Culture, People, Places


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Koichi Iwabuchi is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo. For many years he was a reporter and producer for Nippon Television Network Corporation (ntv).

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Note on Japanese Names ix

Introduction: The 1990s—Japan returns to Asia in the age of globalization 1

1. Taking “Japanization” seriously: Cultural globalization reconsidered 23

2. Trans/nationalism: The discourse on Japan in the global cultural flow 51

3. Localizing “Japan” in the booming Asian markets 85

4. Becoming culturally proximate: Japanese TV dramas in Taiwan 121

5. Popular Asianism in Japan: Nostalgia for (different) Asian modernity 158

6. Japan’s Asian dreamworld 199

Notes 211

References 233

Index 261
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2891-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2985-5
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