chapter  4
22 Pages

TEEN The ‘developmental states’: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, 1945–2007

To understand why the capitalist states in East Asia have been able to achieve this ‘economic miracle’, as it is sometimes called, it is necessary not only to concentrate on economic factors, but also to examine the political environment within the region. In particular, it is important to analyse the impact that both the legacy of the Pacific War and the course of the Cold War had on developments in East Asia. For example, all too often the history of post-war Japan is written as though the country existed in its own universe, in which it selfishly concentrated


on economic growth while other countries engaged in the serious business of resisting communism. In fact, its relationship with the Cold War was far more extensive and significant than this image would imply in terms of both Japan’s international relations and its domestic politics. This becomes even clearer if Japan is seen in its regional context, for in East Asia, as the histories of South Korea and Taiwan attest, the Cold War was a permanent and inescapable fact of life. Indeed, it can be argued that the ‘economic miracle’ in East Asia would not have happened outside the Cold War environment, and that this alone suggests that the model of development that worked in the region is too historically specific to be exported to the outside world.