By Wilfrid FleisherDOUBLEDAY, DORAN
DURING the last decade Japan has furnished abundant evidence that its politics, like its subsurface soil, is volcanic in character. With Japan momentarily checked, but poised and ready to spring at the first sign of weakness in near-by countries, there is obvious topical appeal in this description of modern Japan by an American editor and newspaper man who left Tokyo a year ago after a period of long residence. Mr. Fleisher’s book is descriptive rather than analytical. He is more inclined to tell how things happened than to probe very deeply into their underlying causes. He gives a first-hand, vivid, detailed account of many dramatic high spots of recent Japanese history, including the spectacular military mutiny of February 1936. As editor of the Americanowned Japan Advertiser, transferred to Japanese ownership when the pressure against non-Axis foreigners was becoming uncomfortably strong, he enjoyed a ringside seat at the panorama of what a Japanese bureaucrat once, with unconscious humor and devastating accuracy, called ‘thought control.’ He gives interesting character sketches of some of the Japanese officials with whom foreign newspaper men dealt, tells how to recognize a Japanese detective (‘defective’ would often have seemed a more suitable title), and ends with the sound observation that ‘the only check to Japanese ambitions is Japan’s capacity to carry her schemes into effect.’ w. H. C.