ABSTRACT

The successfully engineered industrialization of Northeast Asia has been intriguing academic observers and policy makers worldwide. Since the rise of ‘Japan Inc.’ in the 1980s, in particular, scholars sought to uncover the critical factors behind the great achievement of the state to modernize society. This task was all the more important because the Japanese success story seemed to be reproducible: it continued with the South Korean ‘Miracle of the Han River’ and the rise of three more ‘Asian Tigers’; Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Most recently, China and several Southeast Asian countries entered the fray of rapid socio-economic transformation. However, China’s rise, which nurtured the most recent predictions of an impending Asian Century, is not only of much bigger scale than the previous waves of modernization. China’s rise – itself an unprecedented combination of simultaneously advancing processes of industrialization and de-industrialization – comes at a time when the pioneers of East Asian developmentalism entered phases of rapid ‘decline’. Japan, once hailed the Number One, has been undergoing equally unprecedented de-industrialization and de-population, known as the ‘lost decades’. 1