Undermining the Japanese Miracle describes the underside of Japan's economic miracle. It is an account of people who have been forgotten in Japan's push to industrialise in the post-war era: the coalminers of Chikuho, on Japan's southernmost island. The dirty and neglected character of Chikuho is in stark and revealing contrast to Japan's prevailing image as an international leader in technology and an affluent country of great social harmony. In effect, the people of Chikuho have been sacrificed for the development of Japan's overall economy.
This book looks at some of the effects of economic rationalist policies: the neglect of the former coalminers by the government and the coal companies has created a situation whereby the region is poor and isolated, and the unemployment, crime and welfare dependence rates are high. There is little hope of economic recovery in this coalmining area.
Matthew Allen challenges the concepts of industrial harmony, economic foresight, cultural homogeneity and caring political management that dominate much of the literature in Japan. He describes how the people of the coalfields see themselves, providing insights into an aspect of Japanese society that is rarely encountered.