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Looking at the Sun: The Rise of the New East Asian Economic and Political System Hardcover – April 5, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Suggesting that the U.S. does not yet comprehend the ramifications of the new form of capitalism developed in Japan, Fallows, a reporter on Asia for the Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals and author of the American Book Award-winning National Defense , details them. It is this style of capitalism, rather than communism or fascism, that challenges us now, he shows. Much of Fallows's review of Japanese history and development is familiar, but his insights and scope are fresh and commanding. The purpose of economic policy in the U.S., he maintains, is to stimulate individual spending; in Japan, economic policy rewards the producers rather than the consumers and is intended to make the nation strong and invulnerable. Fallows argues that not every nation's economic policy will or can follow the American model; Japan has introduced a different and successful model and we should learn from it.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the past decade hundreds of books have been published about Japan, ranging from the idolatrous-sounding Japan from Shogun to Superstate (St. Martin's, 1988) to the frankly negative theme of Michael Crichton's Rising Sun (Knopf, 1992). In contrast, Fallows ( National Defense , LJ 6/1/81) demonstrates how the Japanese economic system differs from the West's and explores some of the historical reasons for these disparities. Fallows takes Americans to task for assuming that all people and cultures are essentially the same. Westerners, he asserts, use "the wrong mental tools to classify, shape, and understand the information they receive about Asia." For example, we "know" that government intervention interferes with business efficiency, but Tokyo intercedes actively in the Japanese economy. Fallows posits the thesis that the postwar American occupation influenced Japan in ways the United States is only beginning to analyze. Succinctly, the United States did the fighting and made the big decisions; Japan concentrated on economic growth. This worked well until the Cold War ended and Japan's economic might began to outstrip the West's. The author concludes by saying that economic competition is not a matter of right or wrong, but it favors those who make their own luck. Fallows has written a lively and well-researched book. Recommended for any library whose patrons are interested in contemporary Asia.
- Mary Chatfield, Angelo State Univ. Lib., San Angelo, Tex.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 517 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067942251X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679422518
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,045,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
This excellent book describes the fundamental differences between Asian and American capitalism. Illustrating his arguments with personal narratives, James Fallows argues that Japan is setting an Asian model of capitalism that Western policymakers fail to grasp. Thus, when the Wall Street Journal talks about Asian nations needing to raise consumer spending, the newspaper fails to take into account the fundamental differences. Fallows contends that this failure holds signifcant policymaking concerns for America. One could argue that the collaspe of the Asian markets renders their system invalid, but the Asians remain firm to their model to this day, despite IMF (American) attempts to change their minds. Fallows dives into an area that America frequently fails to consult in making policy decisions: history. Looking at the Sun is still an excellent and relevant read for anyone intrested in Asian affairs.
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Format: Paperback
Jim has good background in economics, particularly the sociological and comparative methods. But back in the early 90's no one understood what was happening to Japan. The country was entering its Lost Decade. A massive Big Bubble on the scale of the Greenspan 1994-2000 and 2003-2008 blunders had crushed their corporate balance sheets. Japan was awash in debt. They went asea in what Koo identified as a Balance Sheet Recession -- similar to our 1929 and 2008 disasters.

Richard Koo is a genius. His book does ground itself, here and there, with references to personal details. But what Jim Fallows achieved, here, goes to the very culture that underlay Japan's commitments to quality and modernization. China copied Tokyo, not Detroit or Manchester. This book deserves its place at the head of its class.
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Format: Paperback
I was surprised there were only 4 reviews for this book, so here is another . . . Fallows addresses the myth that nations develop successfully by letting free markets run unchecked. He explains how several Asian nations successfully used government direction and oversight to point their economies in the direction they wanted to go. This book is also worthwhile for the coverage of Friedrich List, an influential (really) German economist who argued that governments should spend big.
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