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IN BRIEF

Non Fiction

February 07, 1993|KAREN STABINER

THE JAPANESE WOMAN by Sumiko Iwao. (Free Press: $24.95; 304 pp.) Sumiko Iwao, who received her Ph.D. from Yale University 90 years after her grandfather left Japan to study there, has ample reason to want to update our perception of the Japanese woman: She is one of what she calls the "internationally active Japanese," a working mother who for five years commuted between Tokyo and Washington, D.C., where her husband worked. She has experienced, as she describes in delightfully restrained understatement, "the challenges, joys, difficulties, and anguishes of a modern career woman." So she intends to put the world on notice. Today's Japanese woman is not the mincing, deferential flower we think she is. She is, ironically, something like American women of a generation ago. Having attained a superior position on the domestic front (no matter how much that achievement is devalued by either society), she is now ready to make her move into the business world. Circumstances have conspired to help her out: A shortage of Japanese workers and a decreasing population make her more valuable, and should help her leap over whatever obstacles society has placed in her way.

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