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December 29, 1991|Charles Solomon

CRESTED KIMONO: Power and Love in the Japanese Business Family by Matthews Masayuki Hamabata (Cornell University Press: $8.95). An American of Japanese descent, Hamabata spent much of his time as a graduate student in Japan, studying the interrelated dynamics within families and corporations. Mixing personal experiences with data from sociological studies, Hamabata explains how in Japan, personal identity is perceived as the product of a continually shifting social framework--a concept at odds with the Western notion of everyone having a single, fixed personality. Tradition dictates that the individual must sacrifice his desires and aspirations to the demands of the ie (household or clan), especially when the clan controls some of the world's most powerful corporations. Hierarchical and apparently rigid, the ie mirrors the structured society of Japan; yet behind a formal facade, individuals and branches of a family may be locked in a polite but deadly struggle for personal, fiscal and symbolic power.

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