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February 04, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

JAPAN AND ITS WORLD: Two Centuries of Change by Marius B. Jansen (Princeton Paperbacks: $12.95; 128 pp., illustrated). Originally delivered as lectures at the University of Puget Sound, the essays in this collection trace the development of Japanese views of Western culture between the 18th and 20th centuries. The state-sponsored xenophobia of the shogunate began to crack when Japanese doctors discovered that European medical texts were more accurate than their traditional manuals. Curiosity about the West gradually spread, as did the desire to separate Japan from other Asian nations, which were regarded as weak and backward. Jansen's thoughtful discussions offer valuable background information for the current debates over U.S.-Japanese relations.

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