Keirestu: Richard Brawer
The Japanese are very conscious and concerned about image. Always hoping to take that number one spot as the primary world power over the United States and China they strive for excellence in business, commerce and of course increasing their wealth. Forming conglomeration of businesses linked together by cross-shareholdings which will create a huge corporate structure called a Keirestu, they hope to maintain dominance over the Japanese country and have for the greater half of the 20th century but unfortunately now their grip or hold is diminishing. With the member companies and there are many owning only small portions of the shares in the companies owned by so many, centered on a core bank, this system prevents takeover attempts, keeps them safe from stock market fluctuations and enables long-term planning in innovative projects. Keirestu by Richard Brawer brings to light what happens behind the scenes of these great conglomerates including the rationale, thinking and innermost thoughts of those in power and what happens when anyone tries to voice any descent.
What happens when one man rises to the top and the rest have to fall into line? What happens when a tsunami almost levels the plane? What would happen if China created nuclear weapons and missiles so powerful that it takes the number one spot away from the United States? What happens when a group of wealthy Japanese businessmen decide to take on not only China but the United States in an effort to take control, become the number one power and force in the world and create a nuclear arsenal that would overrun those in any country and possibly do more than destroy the world?
Toshio Nagoya is a smart man but he has many unseen flaws. One is that he guides himself by the gods, the dead and his superstitions. Creating many companies, starting from nothing he managed to build up his wealth in secretive and yet lucrative ways. When a huge tsunami hits Japan and many areas are destroyed he looks to this as a sign that things need to change, that Japan has to rise above adversity, and now is the time to take on China. As we meet his nephew Roger at the start of the novel we learn about a serious accident that caused the death of four of his family members leaving one child quite rich, but an orphan. Next, we learn more about his father and his goals for him but there are secrets that he has yet to learn and to share with Roger. John Nagoya, is the cousin to Toshio and working closely with him they have bought many companies, hidden their ownership and created a web of deceit and lies that goes way up the ranks of many who are spending time in our American prisons. Clever, smart and cunning no one really knows what he has done, nor do they know the true nature of United Industries of America. Keirestu enlightens readers into the mindset of the Japanese, their feelings towards America and their determination to win back what they have lost. What happens when the CEO’s of these Keirestus decide to take action on their won, build nuclear weapons to counteract the threat of China and her new military power? Listening to the words of Toshio explaining his rationale behind using our own Supreme Court ruling that corporations can provide funding for political campaigns as long as the company is American owned. So hiding the fact that the Japanese were the ones about to fund one powerful Senator’s run for reelection would take planning, creativity and definitely deceit. So, these men, who as you meet them during a closed and locked door meeting, appear to agree with their leader, but in reality you can feel the tension and fear within each one of them. When one man voices his concerns his fears are set aside but not in the usual way? Without having to say anything one man, one samurai named Sato says it all with his expressions and movements. All of the companies that these men now own are within our United States congressional districts. But, no one realizes what is happening as yet and hoping that as a result of their generosity the Senator will more than agree with their actions, polices and hopefully just agree to whatever they want. Pressure can be a fatal thing in more ways than one. So, can Nagoya lead his country back to becoming an economic and military force? Is his mindset about the United States right: Are we becoming less powerful as a world power? Will we leave Japan and allow them to invade China? Will the administration demand as they did with Korea and Iran that Japan stop creating and making nuclear weapons?
As you meet the rest of the players we learn more about Morrison’s his wife Sandy who seems more concerned about his political career than cultivating their marriage. Discussion about the Japanese and Chinese became rather heated when on vacation with their friends and we learn exactly what legislation he has planned, his views on political funds being funneled for reelection campaigns, the harsh line he’s taking towards the Japanese and his hopes to run for President. But, there is much more behind what Morrison has planned and we learn about his investigation into
Kyoto Motors, what will happen if they do not buy from their American suppliers and the end result if things go downhill? Added in we learn more about the “accident that caused the death of four people at the start of the book” and another accident that our Senator seems to wreak of foul play.
Then we get to know more about the two cousins, how they met, the reasons behind their alliance and why John holds an heirloom that Toshio would do anything to get. Added in we are about to learn more about Roger, John’s son how he uncovers information about his father’s business dealings. The author allows the reader to understand the basis behind their businesses, the hedge funds, which owns the companies, how the money is funneled and how they manage to hide their ownership from the Americans.
Ripped from the headlines with extensive research, articles, and essays related to Japan/China and their military and economic struggles author Richard Brawer leaves no stone unturned when relating the events of this novel. As Roger decides to find out just what his father was hiding behind locked file cabinets, why he was being kept in the dark about his brother-in-law’s company and why was his job related to United Industries to write contracts of purchase, get them signed and deliver the check? Now, what he wanted to know and would hope to find out is where the money was going and how did his brother in law, Danny acquire so many companies and what is the truth about United Industries of America?
The author then through Roger and his visit to a professor explains the history behind the Shinto Religion, how it impacts the way of life of the Japanese people, plus the history of Confucianism, Zen and Buddhism adding in information about the how the Japanese people view those not born there. Understanding the meaning of the word Kami and why these people are considered the most prejudice in the world. As you read Chapter 22 you learn about class distinctions, dress, roles of the people and why the people resent the shogun and Roger’s father’s role in all of this. Added in you learn more about Ogato from his conversation with Roger and the feeling that he had something to do with the murders of the two union workers. Kyoto Motors are under investigation and Roger aims to find out more about his cousin’s business, his father’s involvement and the hedge fund bonds that are paying for it.
But Toshio wife has her own secret that keeps her feeling alive and special as does he with his allegiance to the gods and his lack of respect for women as we learn when he too has his own place to release his tensions. But, there is so much more the author shares about the Japanese mindset and how they view themselves. Everyone belongs to groups the smallest the family, then the company and the keiretsu and finally the largest group of all is the country. But, what is really interesting is how their religion evolved, their feudalistic way of dealing with others and the fact that they considered themselves superior to everyone because the gods created them, as you will learn when you read Chapter 23 in depth. The Japanese are more concerned about how they are viewed by the world then by how they perceive it. ? Just how strong is China’s military and how will this all play out in the end? So, who is running Japan? Who is this most powerful shogun? What will happen when they go after Morrison to stop his legislation? Why do they think Americans are lazy and do not take their work or businesses seriously?
Truths have a way of coming and sometimes the end result will not be what you expect. As the senator tries to warn his son about the real ownership of his companies, where the funds come from and what would happen if the hedge funds call their bonds will he listen? What happens at the end will surprise readers as one man tries to stop what you might say would be more than just a tsunami or earthquake from happening if things continued in the same way. Lies, betrayals, greed, deceit, prejudice, hate and murder to eliminate anyone in their way just how powerful are the Kieretsus and who remains able to take the last bow in the end? Read this outstanding novel and find out Toshio is able to set forth his plan to create his own arsenal of nuclear weapons? Just what happens and he comes out as the true superior or in this case they might say Shogun? A final showdown that is right out of a Samurai Movie and the end result will more than surprise the reader. Author Richard Brawer’s characters stay true to their culture, tradition and values from start to finish as some struggle to stay afloat, others to prevent disgrace on their families and some just to remember who they are. Kierestus: just how powerful are they? You decide!
Fran Lewis: reviewer