The Yatoi Phenomenon: An Early Experiment in Technical Assistance
In Japan's history there have been two—historians might say, three—periods when the island-nation could be likened to developing countries. In these periods Japan sought what we call "foreign aid": Japanese leaned heavily on the advice of alien advisers (in other words, they sought "technical assistance"). Japan sent students abroad and then retrained them at home to become the "counterparts" of foreign counselors. In fact, Meiji Japan's employment of foreign advisers in the process of modernization was also remarkable. Indeed, the foreign advisers—the yatoi gaikokujin or yatoi—were ancestors of the occupationnaires, just as the Meiji modernizers—the Japanese founding fathers of the nineteenth century—were the grandparents of Japanese leaders. The Meiji experiment was "indeed a striking, possibly the earliest, historical example of the use of technical assistance in development." Little attention has, however, been paid to the Meiji experience in this light.