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Japanese colonialism in comparative perspective


  • Booth, Anne
  • Deng, Kent


The paper examines the economic consequences of Japanese colonialism in Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria in the years from 1910 to 1945, and compares Japanese policies with those implemented by other colonial powers in Southeast Asia. In particular it addresses the writings of an influential group of American scholars who have published widely on Japanese colonial policies over the last fifty years. Their work has been used to support the argument that Japanese colonial policy was more developmental than that of other colonial powers, and laid the foundations for the stellar economic performance of Taiwan and the Republic of Korea in the decades after 1950. The paper challenges this argument by comparing a number of economic and social indicators in Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria with those from other Asian colonies and also from Thailand. The main conclusion is that while the Japanese colonies, especially Taiwan, score well on some indicators, they do less well on others. The idea of Japanese exceptionalism cannot be accepted uncritically.

Suggested Citation

  • Booth, Anne & Deng, Kent, 2016. "Japanese colonialism in comparative perspective," Economic History Working Papers 68883, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:68883

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van der Eng, Pierre, 2010. "The sources of long-term economic growth in Indonesia, 1880-2008," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 294-309, July.
    2. Huff,W. G., 1997. "The Economic Growth of Singapore," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521629447, December.
    3. Kimura, Mitsuhiko, 1989. "Public finance in Korea under Japanese rule: Deficit in the colonial account and colonial taxation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 285-310, July.
    4. repec:gam:jecomi:v:4:y:2016:i:1:p:-:d:62735 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jutta Bolt & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2014. "The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 627-651, August.
    6. Kimura, Mitsuhiko, 1993. "Standards of Living in Colonial Korea: Did the Masses Become Worse Off or Better Off Under Japanese Rule?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 629-652, September.
    7. repec:gam:jecomi:v:4:y:2016:i:1:p:1:d:62735 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mizoguchi, Toshiyuki, 1979. "Economic Growth of Korea under the Japanese Occupation -Background of Industrialization of Korea 1911-1940-," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 20(1), pages 1-19, June.
    9. Cha, Myung Soo, 1998. "Imperial Policy or World Price Shocks? Explaining Interwar Korean Consumption Trend," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 731-754, September.
    10. Chung, Young-Iob, 2006. "Korea under Siege, 1876-1945: Capital Formation and Economic Transformation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195178302.
    11. Huff, Gregg & Caggiano, Giovanni, 2007. "Globalization, Immigration, and Lewisian Elastic Labor in Pre–World War II Southeast Asia," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 33-68, March.
    12. Anne Booth, 2016. "Falling Behind, Forging Ahead and Falling Behind Again: Thailand from 1870 to 2014," Economies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(1), pages 1-17, January.
    13. Hooley, Richard, 2005. "American economic policy in the Philippines, 1902-1940: Exploring a dark age in colonial statistics," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 464-488, June.
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    More about this item


    Japan; West; colonies in Asia; state policies; growth and development;

    JEL classification:

    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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