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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - The Rise and Decline of the Japanese Economic ‘Miracle’


‘why study asia?’ The answer frequently given to this question is that Asia, particularly the East and Southeast Asian region, is of great economic significance to the world economy in general and to the Australian economy in particular. In 2002, seven of Australia's top ten export destinations were Asian countries, and the East Asian and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries purchased over 53 per cent of Australia's exports (DFAT 2003). The economic growth and prosperity of these countries are of consequence for Australia's economic fortunes. For some commentators, the reason for studying Asia is primarily if not solely about the economic advantages to be gained through a closer engagement with the East and Southeast Asian region. This is the argument that has often, in the past two decades, been advanced to support the need for the study of Asia and Asian languages at Australia's schools and universities (Garnaut 1989: Chapter 15; East Asia Analytical Unit 1992). While this pragmatic argument does have some merit, it places the importance of studying Asia on too narrow a foundation. There are many reasons – humanistic, historical, political, religious, cultural, strategic – for studying Asia. The study of Asia is not and should not be just about economics (Maguire 1991).

While the case for studying Asia should not rest on a purely economic foundation, there are persuasive economic reasons for taking an interest in East and Southeast Asia, particularly from an Australian perspective.

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Guide to further reading
Flath, David. 2000. The Japanese Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Provides a wide-ranging analysis of the history of the Japanese economy, Japanese economic institutions and practices, and the economic policies of the Japanese government
Ito, Makato. 2000. The Japanese Economy Reconsidered. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Provides a detailed history of Japan's economic crisis, and evaluates competing explanations of it
Johnson, Chalmers. 1982. MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The growth of industrial policy, 1925–1975. Stanford: Stanford University Press. The classic work of the bureaucratic regulation explanation of Japan's economic ‘miracle’
Pempel, T. J. 1998. Regime Shift: Comparative dynamics of the Japanese political economy. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. A lucid analysis of the changes to Japan's political economy during the 1990s