chapter  5
16 Pages

Economics and commerce

Modern life in Japan is centred on the success of the nation's commerce and we need not be surprised to find that many of Japan's more thoughtful science fiction stories show a concern over current commercial practices. Are they really essential for the nation's well-being? Or are they detrimental to the quality of human life? Are they ethical? Are they sustainable? Are they wise? Do they create tensions in society that must eventually exact a heavy price? Do they create tensions with Japan's trading partners that must eventually rebound to Japan's disadvantage? Is there no limit to the extent to which commercialism can pervade human life? Has it become the object of existence? Will the Japanese be able to escape it? Can Japan's prosperity continue without it? Is the nation's prosperity too fragile to last anyway? These and many other similar questions are the very stuff out of which much modern Japanese science fiction is born. Most works on the subject are critical. Few set out to praise modern Japanese practices. This, many would believe, is an inherent characteristic of the genre. Yet the fact that writers (especially Hoshi Shin'ichi) can find so much to criticize and can evoke such an enthusiastic response from their (mainly youthful) readers is an indication that something is present in Japanese commercial life that does not sit well with the Japanese psyche. The fact that the readers belong overwhelmingly to the younger generation may well presage a mounting crescendo of generational dissatisfaction and subsequent changes in direction.