Lessons from Japan

2008-07-15 00:00

On August 15, 1945, in a departure from imperial custom, the Emperor Hirohito addressed the Japanese people on the outcome of the war against the United States and its allies. Speaking to a defeated nation in a frank and succinct manner, he asked them to “let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and ever mindful of its heavy responsibilities and of the long road ahead”.

Apart from a highly focused work ethic at all levels of Japanese society, one of the contributing factors to Japan’s post-war success was to be found in the Flying Geese model of economic development. This term was first introduced by the Japanese economist Kaname Akamatsu during the thirties, and was so named because those nations that joined the formation did so in tiers, mimicking the inverted “v” shape of geese in flight. The sequential and masterful application of this model goes a long way to explaining the initial success of those Asian nations who joined the formation. Japan, being the initiator, took pole position, followed by the second tier of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia then joined them as the third tier.

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