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When the world’s attention is increasingly focused on Asian giants China and India, and their rapidly expanding economies, why a book on Japan now? For me, the theme is more relevant than ever, as I believe people have a great deal to learn from the third largest global economic power. As a longtime ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to Japan, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps—representing the 154 embassies based in Japan—I have the privilege and honor of attending many rarified events and sacred rites that are inaccessible to most Japanese people. On behalf of my diplomatic colleagues, I make the annual birthday address to the Emperor, as well as participate in private ceremonies at the venerable Ise Shrine. I am also fortunate to be in touch with local communities and local culture, giving me insights into the values of ordinary Japanese people. With the 2020 Olympics approaching, I have collected my observations in this extended essay on a country whose strengths and wonders are often misunderstood by foreigners and overlooked by its own people. Growing up, my Jesuit priest teacher instilled in me a respect of the religions and traditions of all countries and cultures. Perhaps this is why I am inclined to write about Japan’s animistic Shinto philosophy and assert that the world can benefit by studying Japanese culture. I believe that by looking to Japan, we can find clues toward achieving peace—a necessity in these turbulent times—and also economic recovery.

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