Ronald Dore’s 1979 essay about Japan’s “internationalization” tackled one of the defining themes of Japanese politics, society, and culture over the past decades. In his characteristically witty voice, Dore assessed the myriad ways in which a Japan that was well attuned to global cultures was also capable of reaffirming supposed chasms between Japanese society and the world outside, particularly in political and economic matters. In this article, I place Dore’s compelling essay in the contexts both of his own changing views on Japan over the course of his distinguished and prolific career, as well as in the currents of a Japan that has been transformed dramatically over the past three decades by transnational flows that fall outside the prevailing use of the word kokusaika (internationalization). Dore’s contributions to the field displayed not only his keen engagement with Japanese intellectual and social debates, but also moral judgments regarding the values encoded, reproduced, and sometimes betrayed by institutional environments. By extending the logics of Dore’s work, this article suggests that we might think of internationalization as something not only challenging these environments, but also transformed and embedded within them.
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