Economic Reform in Asia

Economic Reform in Asia

China, India, and Japan

Sara Hsu

Economic Reform in Asia compares and analyzes the reform and development patterns of China, India, and Japan from both historical and developmental perspectives. Sara Hsu specifically focuses on China’s reform and opening-up in 1979, India’s accelerated liberalization in 1991, and the outset of the Meiji Restoration in Japan in 1878. This detailed overview of growth patterns in Asia’s largest economies is invaluable, especially in its determination to understand which development policies work, what role institutions play in development, and what issues may arise during said development.

Chapter 3: An Asian leader: Japan’s development trajectory

Sara Hsu

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian economics, economics and finance, asian economics


Japan’s development trajectory was heavily influenced by two factors: geography and foreign intervention. As a mountainous island nation, Japan lacked many natural resources and faced barriers to transportation, and was forced to make a concerted effort to industrialize. Japan was given impetus to develop after its negative experiences with traders from the United States, who forced Japan to open up to trade. This caused Japan to feel its own deficiencies painfully; with insufficient resource security and barriers to development, Japan had to seek innovative ways and obtain sufficient funds to industrialize. Japan is an island chain in the North Pacific Ocean (Figure 3.1), east of Korea, Russia, and China (US Central Intelligence Agency 2012). With terrain that is mountainous and rugged, only 12 percent of Japan’s land mass is comprised of arable land. The Japanese Alps on the main island of Honshu cover an area 140 miles long and 60 miles wide. Per capita land mass is the smallest of all G-7 nations. Because of Japan’s mountainous terrain, it was not until the 1960s that Japan was able to build up its road network, and the main form of transportation remained the railways.

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