Is Japan Asian? Geographically, this is a silly question. Yet in an age in which identity politics have become increasingly critical, by economic logic, political orientation and geopolitical alliance, Japan is Western.
The question is prompted by a brilliant new book by Deepak Nayyar: "Resurgent Asia: Diversity in Development" (Oxford University Press). His focus is on the development experience across Asia since 1968.
Japan was the only Asian country in the 19th century to have successfully followed the Euro-Atlantic path to an industrialized modern economy and Asia's only major power in the first half of the 20th century. Regrettably, Japan also emulated European powers in their colonial aggression, over-estimated its military prowess and paid a heavy price with military defeat, atomic bombing and occupation. Subsequently, too, Japan still belonged to the Western group of wealthy nations after recovering and re-establishing itself as the world's second-biggest economy.