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Author Lectures on Japan's "Lost Generation"

Michael Zielenziger, author of Shutting Out the Sun, will give a lecture titled “Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created its Own Lost Generation,” on September 28 at noon at Pomona College.

As the world’s second-wealthiest country, Japan once seemed poised to overtake America. In Zielenziger’s book Shutting Out the Sun (2006), he discusses an array of disturbing social trends in Japan, including: the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of all industrialized countries, and a rising incidence of untreated cases of depression.

Zielenziger argues that Japan’s rigid, tradition-steeped society, its aversion to change, and its distrust of individuality and the expression of self are stifling economic revival, political reform, and social evolution. Giving a human face to the country’s malaise, Zielenziger explains how these constraints have driven intelligent, creative young men to become modern-day hermits and led to growing numbers of “parasite singles,” the name given to single women who refuse to leave home, marry, or bear children. Shutting Out the Sun is a bold explanation of Japan’s stagnation and its implications for the rest of the world.

Zielenziger, currently a research scholar at the Institute of East Asian Studies, was, until May 2003, the Tokyo-based bureau chief for Knight Ridder Newspapers. Before moving to Tokyo, Zielenziger served as the first Pacific Rim correspondent for The San Jose Mercury News, and was a finalist for a 1995 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting for a series on China. He was also a contributor to two other Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the Mercury News.

The event will be held in Pomona College’s Oldenborg Center (350 N. College Way, Claremont) and is sponsored by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College and the Asian Studies Department. Attendees may purchase lunch at this event.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.