Searching for the Inner Samurai

It must be thrilling to assume command of Sony, a luminous icon of Japan's postwar recovery. Thrilling, and perhaps sobering. Howard Stringer read history at Oxford, and now he is making it as the latest in a short list of Westerners to be installed as chief executive of a Japanese corporation. Doubtless, Stringer is aware that the significance of his promotion extends beyond Sony to the larger context of the convulsive changes that are transforming the landscape of Japanese society.

Since the early 1990s, when Japan's economy took a fall from which it has yet to recover,...

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