Greeting by Representative
In what ways have we interpreted the history of the economies of emerging states, the subject of this project? Considering the vigorous growth of these economies in recent years, it seems that past research has overemphasized their backwardness and passive character. The historical understanding of these economies has often been premised on the concept of “backward countries,” which meant that we have been measuring the level and direction of development of these countries from the perspective of developed countries. The theory of the flying geese pattern of development, for instance, has invited such a criticism from the moment it emerged. The theory of catch-up industrialization, on the other hand, while producing some excellent research that explains the domestic context of industrialization processes by considering the interactions between political and economic factors, has had a tendency to regard both initial conditions and international environments as givens. Where countries have histories of being colonized or semi-colonized, sometimes the issue of whether there existed a long-term economic development path, running through the period of pre-independence to today, has not even been clearly recognized. As for the international circumstances surrounding the economic rise of emerging states, initiatives of developed countries and hegemons have normally dictated the narrative, while emerging states were assigned the position of passive agents of history.
However, the emerging states in Asia today include those which have not only sustained higher growth rates than developed nations for a long time, but have the potential to lead a regional or even the world economy. On the one hand, these nations—as consumers of resources and energy—have begun to exert the power to determine the level of purchasing power, and through it the development path, of resource-rich developing countries. At the same time, they also influence the direction of the development of frontier technologies in developed countries through their competition with them, as well as by the sheer weight of demand they create. Moreover, emerging states are facing a succession of new issues such as globalization, global environmental sustainability, declining birthrates, and aging at a speed that has not been experienced in the history of developed nations. Given such internationally proactive characters of emerging states and the new issues of rapid change, it is necessary to make fresh international comparisons and attempt to understand the world economy from the perspective of emerging states, rather than attempting to understand their diverse development paths from the perspective of developed nations. This group aims to contribute to creating such perspectives through the study of economic history.