In Asia's Flying Geese, Walter F. Hatch tackles the
puzzle of Japan's paradoxically slow change during the economic
crisis it faced in the 1990s. Why didn't the purportedly
unstoppable pressures of globalization force a rapid and radical
shift in Japan's business model? In a book with lessons for the
larger debate about globalization and its impact on national
economies, Hatch shows how Japanese political and economic elites
delayed-but could not in the end forestall-the transformation of
their distinctive brand of capitalism by trying to extend it to the
rest of Asia.
For most of the 1990s, the region grew rapidly as an
increasingly integrated but hierarchical group of economies.
Japanese diplomats and economists came to call them "flying geese."
The "lead goose" or most developed economy, Japan, supplied the
capital, technology, and even developmental norms to second-tier
"geese" such as Singapore and South Korea, which themselves traded
with Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and so on down the
V-shaped line to Indonesia and coastal China. Japan's model of
capitalism, which Hatch calls "relationalism," was thus fortified,
even as it became increasingly outdated. Japanese elites enjoyed
enormous benefits from their leadership in the region as long as
the flock found ready markets for their products in the West.
The decade following the collapse of Japan's real estate and
stock markets would, however, see two developments that ultimately
eroded the country's economic dominance. The Asian economic crisis
in the late 1990s destabilized many of the surrounding economies
upon which Japan had in some measure depended, and the People's
Republic of China gained new prominence on the global scene as an
economic dynamo. These changes, Hatch concludes, have forced real
transformation in Japan's corporate governance, its domestic
politics, and in its ongoing relations with its neighbors.
Subjects: Political Science
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