The "Hidden" Side of the "Flying-Geese" Model of Catch-Up Growth: Japan's <I>Dirigiste</I> Institutional Setup and a Deepening Financial Morass


Terutomo Ozawa

East-West Center Working Papers, Economics Series, No. 20


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: May 2001
Binding: paper
Pages: 30
Free Download: PDF


Japan is in the eleventh year of stagnation with a prolonged financial malaise. Just a little over a decade ago, Japan’s phenomenal growth was admired and even feared as a juggernaut. Japanese scholars and policymakers came to often describe Japan’s industrial advance in terms of the so-called "flying-geese" model of catch-up growth, a sanguine expression that has also been played up in the media. Japan once did play the role of Asia’s lead goose before the burst of the 1987-1990 asset bubble. The model is useful in capturing the essence of Japan’s successful industrial upgrading and Asia’s trade-led growth but fails to explain why such a success would ever lead to the present economic predicament. This is because it ignores the institutional, especially financial, underpinnings of Japan’s catch-up strategy. What were the key enabling institutional features of Japan’s once effective FG catch-up strategy? How did they function? Why did they come to cause the 1987-1990 bubble and the current financial imbroglio? How will Japan be "reformed"? All these developments and issues need to be examined as path-dependent evolutionary events within a reformulated "flying-geese" model, an "institutional" model of FG catch-up.