Japan and Democracy

JAPAN AND DEMOCRACY….Actually, I didn’t intend to write a post about a typo on the back cover of With All Our Might. I meant to write a post about Kenneth Pollack’s essay, “A Grand Strategy for the Middle East.” One of the things he does is make the familiar argument that a democratic Iraq will serve as a model for other Arab states:

It would be akin to how Japan showed other East Asian nations over a period of decades that democratic principles can coexist with East Asian traditions, values, and aspirations and so made the transformation of East Asia possible.

Question for any historians out there: is this a common argument? I may be demonstrating some ignorance here, but I’ve never before heard anyone make the case that the (partial) democratization of East Asia has been primarily due to Japan’s example. Japan has obviously been the economic model for much of East Asia, but do historians and IR folks also think of Japan as a political model?

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