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Reviewed by:
  • Beyond Japan: The Dynamics of East Asian Regionalism
  • Eul-Soo Pang (bio)
Beyond Japan: The Dynamics of East Asian Regionalism. Edited By Peter J. Katzenstein and Takashi Shiraishi. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006. Softcover: 325 pp.

This book examines the emerging new dynamics of Asian regionalism. The concept of regionalism widely used in the disciplines of international relations (IR), comparative politics, international political economy (IPE), and international economics has several meanings, and is often confusing and contradictory. This book broadens the existing perspectives, suggests a new theoretical mindset, and provides ample empirical data to make a convincing case for Asia’s multifaceted regionalism. The theoretical implications can be far reaching by shedding light on the workings of the current regionalization and regionalism. This book delves into the complex interplay of the political, economic, social, cultural and ecological changes in Japan and beyond, which have created a new regionalism that is neither American nor Japanese, but uniquely blended Asian and is informed by the confluence of newly emerging patterns in global trade and finance, as well as Asian middle class social awakening, taking to mass consumerism, rejecting authoritarianism and embracing democratization.

Katzenstein (Chapter 1) sets the stage for regionalization in a comprehensive way. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the first converging and then diverging interests of the United States and Japan in leading East Asia laid the first cornerstone for regionalism. Another catalyst was rapid industrial development, fueled by massive inflows of post-Plaza Accord foreign direct investment (FDI) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. China’s challenge to Japan and the United States since the 1990s has revamped the current regionalization process. Non-state actors like multinational corporations (MNCs) from the US, Japan, Korea and Europe (which together take up as much as three fourths of all exports) have defined the regional economy and will continue to do so.

T.J. Pempel (Chapter 2) brings his keen insight to the recent changes in the domestic politics of Japan and explains how they have nuanced Asian regionalism; in Chapter 3, William Kelly and Merry White deftly analyze the current breakdown of Japan’s “family-nation” model (and its long-term effect), prompted by a series of societal changes ranging from an aging population to eroding public education system and a million-plus illegal immigrants. H. Richard Friman, Katzenstein, David Leheny, and Nobuo Okawara (Chapter 4) [End Page 152] argue that in spite of Japan’s success in economic regionalism, it does not want to “bury” the US-Japan security bilateralism in a multilateral security arrangement which it may not be able to control. The post-9/11 security and counterterrorism measures under the Koizumi government facilitated the US global antiterrorism strategy and at the same time gave opportunities to deal with such internal security issues as smuggling, crime syndicates, money laundering, and other antisocial activities.

Natasha Hamilton-Hart (Chapter 5) argues that Japan’s regionalization of its financial system was fraught with missteps. A strategy of finding “quality borrowers” (p. 111) in Southeast and Northeast Asia to offset the mounting losses from the post-bubble non-performing loans at home has netted little. Japan’s banking reforms (“re-regulation” in some cases and deregulation in others) have not been widely copied by its neighbours, and future Japanese leadership in the regional financial system remains in doubt. Nakao Munakata (Chapter 6) presents a richly textured analysis of why Asia is moving away from “exclusive” multilateralism and embracing bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). China, Japan and Korea in a few short years have become the most ardent advocates for trade bilateralism, thus redrawing the boundaries of regionalism. The stalled Doha agreement, the moribund APEC, and the snail-paced AFTA integration set off the FTA race, redolent of sibling competition; also playing a role are the fear of being left behind and diplomatic isolation.

Dieter Ernst (Chapter 7) predicts that Japan’s electronics production platforms overseas need to be consolidated with a host of networking alliances with Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese manufacturers throughout Southeast Asia and in China proper. Will this strategy work? Derek Hall (Chapter 8) tells a fascinating story about how decades of Japanese imports of forestry...


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pp. 152-154
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