In the last four decades Japan and the four "little dragons"-Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore-which together constitute less than four percent of the world's population, have become with Europe and North America one of the three pillars of the modern industrial world order. How did those "dots on the eastern periphery" achieve such a transformation? This is not the first effort to try to answer that question, but it is surely one of the most concise, readable and penetrating. One of the nation's leading scholars on East Asian affairs, Vogel sees several "situational factors"-U.S. aid, the destruction of the old order, a sense of political urgency, an eager and plentiful labor supply and familiarity with the Japanese model of success-as one cluster of factors. But success, Vogel says, also came from a complex of institutional and cultural practices rooted in the Confucian tradition but adapted to the needs of a modern society-"industrial neo-Confucianism." This cultural cluster includes a meritocratic bureaucracy, the entrance examination system, the importance of group consciousness and the goal of self-improvement.
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