Free Exchange at Economist wrote this post, presumably reading NYT's article on Duflo and Banerjee. I certainly agree with the Free Exchange regarding USA on the resurgence of economics. She has a good line:
Steve Levitt is to economics what Noam Chomsky was to linguistics, he made his discipline, accessible—even sexy to the general population.
But, in Japan, where Freakonomics also became a best-seller, economics has not come back, yet. Or, perhaps, it has never been popular since Samuelson (1948) became available to professors 60 years ago, in spite of some worthy efforts by a few researchers. There might be a number of reasons. First, there are still Marxist economists alive, studying, and teaching in Japan. It is not minority in number. They are many. So, the diffusion or propagation process of contemporary economics (a.k.a. Freakonomics) is weak in power and limited in scope. Students are confused when they are taught both the elements of microeconomics and introductory Marxist economics. They are not compatible.
Second, the teaching method of the elements of microeconomics is weak in Japan. As far as I know, nobody (but me) has posted on the internet the entire translation of PowerPoint slides of the most popular textbook of microeconomics in the world. I presume that the professors of the elements of microeconomics have put fewer time for preparation than they should have. Well, they have not done, as they would argue, because the reward is too small. Third, journalists are not interested in economics. So called, economic journalism is very weak in Japan. For example, nobody has dared to call into question the quality of economics in the mind of the candidate of new BOJ governor. I have heard the rumor that 5 years ago he was seen coming out of a bookstore near Kasumigaseki full of many introductory economics textbooks. Five yeras of education on the field and the office is not enough for the quality of the monetary authority in the World No.2 GDP country. Sorry, I just spoke up.