The Perils and Promise of Pluralism: Lessons from the German Case for Japan

  • Thomas U. Berger


From their emergence as late industrializing military powers in the mid-nineteenth century to their reconstruction after the Second World War as peaceful trading nations allied with the United States, modern Germany and Japan have followed remarkably similar trajectories of development.1 Because of the many striking parallels between the two countries, and because Germany modernized at an earlier date, Japan has a long tradition of seeking to draw lessons from the German experience. As early as the Meiji period, Japan’s oligarchical leadership treated Wilhelmine Germany as a model, importing its legal, constitutional and military institutions.2 Germany’s cultural influence on Japan continued after the Meiji period, at times with negative consequences, as when during the 1920s and 1930s German ideas of the totalitarian state inspired the Japanese militarists (Peattie, 1975). Since 1945, Japan has looked more to the United States than to Germany for inspiration. Nonetheless, the affinity between Germany and Japan remains strong, and in certain respects may even be increasing.3


Asylum Seeker Temporary Worker Foreign Worker German Economy Guest Worker 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas U. Berger

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