Showa is the era in Japan that starts in 1925 (I think). The book is about the history of mainly the World War II years by Kazutoshi Hando, a known WWII scholar and a former editor-in-chief of a respected Japanese monthly called Bungei Shunju.
Right at the beginning, he presents this premise: Japan has created and destroyed the country in modern times in 40 year increments. Specifically, he defines the start of modern Japan as 1865 when the Emperor declared that the country would be open to foreigners after being closed off for 200 years. From there, Japan spent 40 years through 1905 turning the country into a global power. It won not only one, but two wars against Russia. Then, however, the country “becomes conceited and overconfident, declares war against the entire world and destroys the country that former leaders had worked so hard to build.” That takes us to 1945. Jump to 1952 when Japan regains its autonomy after seven years under U.S. occupation. The country again works furiously to become an economic superpower this time, but again, in exactly 40 years, the bubble bursts.
It’s an intriguing thought given that we’re more than 10 years into an economic slump (another 30 more years according to his theory?). Anyway, he presents a remarkably balanced and human account of what triggered World War II in Pacific Asia (a war-hungry bumbling idiot military and a system that covered for their mistakes) complete with excerpts of diaries and official documents as well as their translations into understandable Japanese. It’s a real shame that it’s not available in English.