The Future of Northeast Asia: Mobilization System Life Cycles


Thursday, February 16, 2012, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

William OverholtWilliam Overholt, Ash Center
Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

About the Seminar
Asian politics has been driven by the “Asian economic miracles,” which resulted from the use of mobilization systems. These systems, originally copied by Japan from domestic strategies of prewar Germany and the Soviet Union, work only in relatively cohesive societies motivated by a high level of fear. When successful, they either decay into stagnant domination by bloated bureaucracies and reactionary interest groups or evolve into more competitive economies and polities. South Korea and Taiwan made the transition successfully while Japan failed, with the result that South Korean living standards and international prominence will soon exceed Japan’s. China faces a decisive choice between a milder version of Japanese decay and a reignition of reforms that could yield global leadership. These evolutions will determine power relations in Asia and much of the future of global politics.

About the Speaker
Dr. Overholt, senior research fellow at the Kennedy School’s Ash Center, is author of numerous books and articles, including The Rise of China and most recently Asia, America and the Transformation of Geopolitics.