East Asia in the Twenty First Century

Economic Cooperation and Political Rivalry
  • Shinichi Ichimura


It is a bold attempt to talk about what will happen to East Asia in the 21st Century. One could have predicted what would happen in the 20th century at the end of the 19th century. But one can not say that there is no example in the history of political prognosis or scientific fiction that has predicted surprisingly well the future problems facing some country’s politics many decades ahead and proposed even policy suggestions for the country. One of such examples may be found in the well-known Toni Kanjo Ikensho (Opinions of Kanjo Tani) presented to the Meiji government in the 22nd year of Meiji era as early as 1887. It is better known abroad as was translated and quoted by E. Herbert Norman in his Japan’s Emergence As A Modern State Political and Economic Problems of the Meiji Period, New York, 1940. Tani wrote:

“What kinds of strategic policies should Japan adopt then? I maintain: abolish all the traditional routine policies and ideologies, abandon the mind of dependence on others, reinforce the armaments, deepen the ditches and build up the fortress, keep international faith with foreign nations, try to maintain the dignity and honor of the State, never do anything to bring disgrace to the country, uplift the spirits in crisis to defend the country with the people, and simply wait for the rebellions in Europe. Europe will sooner or later face the situations which cause the wars and force many countries to compete for supremacy in the world. Our nation certainly should not intervene in such struggles. Nevertheless, the impact of the wars in Europe will be so deep and wide that Eastern countries will be also affected and will inevitably be involved in the wars. Then, our nation should not have any interest in our relative importance to European nations but may be destined to assume the leadership among the Eastern countries. If we have 20 strong battleships and an elite troop of 200 thousand, then we can measure our strength in the balance of the Eastern countries and demonstrate our weight to European powers.”


Foreign Direct Investment Income Inequality East Asian Country Asian Development Coastal Province 
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  1. 2.
    Even after 1945 have there been major wars in East Asia as well as the rest of the world: e.g. the Korean War and the Vietnam War. There were also a number of civil wars or domestic power-struggles of which the sacrifices were not less serious than any other major wars in history. The Great Leap Forward Movement and the Cultural Revolution in China, it is believed, caused the sacrifice of about 20 million human lives respectively. The civil war in Cambodia sacrificed a few million lives; the civil rioting and fights in Malaysia more than tens of thousands; the one in Indonesia in 1965 more than half a million; and those in Burma also more than tens of thousands. Thus, to regard the latter half of the 20th Century just as 50 years of economic development, particular as a miraculous growth can hardly be justified.Google Scholar
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    Kampuchea’s membership is suspended at the moment, so that the ASEAN members are nine now. India is also a continental country in Asia. In South Asia, the balance between India and the rest of insular nations are difficult to maintain. That is the reason for instability in South Asia.Google Scholar
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    The reader familiar with geopolitics may find my argument somewhat similar to the classic arguments of Halford Mackinder’s distinction between sea powers and land powers and domination of heartland (Geographic Axis of History, 1904 and Ideals and Realities of Democracy, 1919) and Nicholas J. Spykman’s idea of Rimland around the heartland (America’s Strategies in World Order, 1942).Google Scholar
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    The Pan Yellow Sea Area has been proposed by a number of economists as a closely linked economic region and used as an idea to establish a sub-regional economic grouping. See, for instance, Takeshi Katsuhara, “Towards Economic Cooperation in the Pan Yellow Sea Region,” EAEP, ICSEAD, Kitakyushu, March, 1997 and the articles by A. Nishimura and Y. Ogawa in the same issue of EAEP.Google Scholar
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    The regional income gaps in China need a careful study. The income gaps are widening particularly between coastal provinces and the rest of the national economies. The income gaps among the coastal provinces themselves are narrowing. Excellent studies are available on these matters. Katsuji Nakagane, “Inter-regional Disparities and Their Structure in China: Survey and Some New Analyses,” Ajia Keizai (Asian Economy), February 1997; Dai Erbiao, “The changes in Regional Development Strategies and Trends in Income Differentials in China: 1952–1992,” Keizai Ronso [Kyoto University Economic Review), Special Issue No. 12, January 1997.Google Scholar
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    Before the financial crisis in the fall of 1997,the growth rates of almost all East Asian economies were slowing down, and the stock exchange indices were declining in Thailand.Google Scholar
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    See Chapter 13 and S. Ichimura, “Regional Integration Issues in Asia,” in AFTA After NAFTA, Academic Studies Series, Joint Korea-US Academic Symposium, Vol.4, 1994, Princeton; S. Ichimura, “The Recent Trends of New World Order and Regional Integration and Japan,” in Politics and Economics in Drastically Changing in World (Gekidosuru Sekaino Seiji to Keizai), Proposal 21, Vol. I, Sagano Shoin, Kyoto 1994Google Scholar
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    Toshio Watanabe, “Growing Alone” Look Japan, January 1997; Toshihiko Kinoshita, “Hardly Autonomous Cycles,” Look Japan, March 1997Google Scholar
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    Including the entrepot trade through Singapore and Hong Kong.Google Scholar
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    As for the details of information on deregulation in East Asian countries, the best source of information is Tsusho-Koho, monthly publication of JETRO. See a convenient Table 7 in Kyoko Yasukuni “Current Situation and Prospect for Foreign Investment in ASEAN Countries,” RIM, Sakura Institute of Research, N0.27, 1994.Google Scholar
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    See James W. Morley (ed.), DRIVEN BY GROWTH: Political Change in the Asia-Pacific Re ion, M.E.Sharp, New York, 1993. The book is being revised for new edition.Google Scholar
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    See Chalmers Johnson, “Worries About Japanese Appeasement to China,” (Nipponno Taichu Junno ni Kenen) in Nikkei Shinbun, November 25, 1995Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shinichi Ichimura
    • 1
  1. 1.International Center for the Study of East Asian DevelopmentKokurakita, Kitakyushu, FukuokaJapan

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