Japan is one of the world's most important societies, yet remains one of the least understood. This book is designed to fill the gap for a concise but thought-provoking introduction to all aspects of the country's political, economic and social life set in a clear historical context. The author's starting-point is that the study of Japan is 'contested territory' where even such apparently simple questions such as 'Who is in charge?' spark considerable disagreement and controversy among experts. To understand contemporary Japan, Duncan McCargo argues, it is necessary to get to grips with a range of different perspectives on Japanese political and social structures. Integrating contrasting perspectives throughout, the core chapters of the book focus on the changing economy, government and politics, society and culture, and Japan's place in the wider world. The new third edition of this popular text has been fully revised and updated throughout to cover key developments such as the historic end of LDP rule in 2009. This accessible and lively book will be essential reading both for students and general readers who want to know more about this important country.