Ezra Vogel, author of “Japan as Number One,” dies: Harvard Univ.

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Ezra Vogel, a U.S. expert on Japan and China and professor emeritus at Harvard University, has died, the university’s Chinese studies center said Sunday. He was 90.

Harvard University Professor Emeritus Ezra Vogel, who specializes in East Asian sociology, is interviewed in Fukuoka on Nov. 14, 2019, as he visits Japan to give lectures at Kyushu University and other universities in Japan. His 1979 book, “Japan as No. 1: Lessons for America,” became a big hit in Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The professor of social science was widely known for his 1979 book “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America,” which became a best seller in Japan.

The book explained the reason behind Japan’s economic prosperity after World War II and praised Japanese-style business practices, helping shape U.S. perceptions of the country.

In an opinion piece written for Kyodo News in 2016, Vogel said, “The reason I wrote ‘Japan As Number One’ was…because I thought that, in many aspects of the society, Japan was doing extremely well.”

“It had a very low crime rate, they had very good public education. At that time, they had very high quality bureaucrats. They had a very stable and open society,” he also said.

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1950, Vogel studied sociology in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard, receiving his doctorate of philosophy in 1958. He went to Japan for two years to study the language and conduct researches and then became a professor at Harvard in 1967.

Vogel served as director of Harvard’s East Asian Research Center between 1972 and 1977 as well as director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Center for International Affairs between 1980 and 1987. He retired from teaching in 2000.

Also known as a China expert, his research covered the communist country’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who advocated “reform and opening-up” policy.

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