The Journal of Far Eastern Business was launched in 1994 with a special issue on "The competitive advantages of Far Eastern business". The theme is appropriate to the ethos which has in recent years given rise to a body of literature extolling the philosophy and management skills of the East against a backdrop of declining western economies. Among the books reviewed in its pages, Japanese Manufacturing Investment in Europe: its Impact on the UK and The Japanisation of British Industry point to the wider study of this trend.
Japan, however, is not the sole focus of this timely journal. That country is increasingly being observed in the context of East Asian relationships and the dynamic economies of the Pacific Rim. Hence the articles in this first issue encompass a variety of subjects on Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. An introductory article by editor Robert Fitzgerald provides a comparison and explanation of national economic success in East Asia and is followed by a series of country-based case studies. The clarity of conception may not be maintainable in future issues but the approach as set out is a workable one.
A specialist publication of this sort is arguably long-overdue. The study of Japan and East Asia has flourished in British universities over the last ten years. The global importance of the subject is amply acknowledged as is the growing impact in Britain of trade and investment links with the Far East. Rapid changes in the region have raised the profiles of Asia's Newly Industrialising Economies (NIEs) and has shifted the hitherto nearly exclusive focus upon Japan to the "Four Tigers" of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. As the sobriquets multiply, so too do the economic strengths of these countries and their network of global involvements.
The Journal of Far Eastern Business is supported by an international editorial board that seeks to bring together experts in the field. The stated editorial policy that "anticipate(s) a process of continuous improvement" is an acknowledgement - however tongue-in-cheek - that the publication may itself be a product of the "Japanisation" process.
Its format is clearly laid out with a half-dozen core articles and some 14 book reviews providing a balanced regional spread. It is not a weighty tome but the standard of articles compares well with other academic journals of its type. Future issues, published on a quarterly basis, will consider the proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum and the recent World Bank report on the East Asian "miracle". The third issue, on The State and Economic Development: Lessons from the Far East, will pursue the theme set out by the World Bank report.
The inaugural issue bodes well for the expansion of a subject which is increasingly impinging upon the field of international relations and which will benefit from such a forum for the publication of recent research.
Marie Conte-Helm is reader in Japanese studies, University of Northumbria.
Journal of Far Eastern Business:: Volume One, Number One
Editor - Robert Fitzgerald
ISBN - ISSN 1351 0363
Publisher - Frank Cass
Price - £35.00 (indiv.), £90.00 (inst.)