Anime, Manga, Sushi, Teriyaki, J-pop, Harajuku fashion … these are just some of the cultural exports from Japan that the rest of the world have embraced and Singapore is one of Japan’s biggest fans. Singaporeans have benefited not just by being a consumer of the many technological advances from Japan (Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Panasonic, and Sony to name a few) but also shared and learnt through economic, political, and intellectual exchanges over the past 50 years since the start of the bilateral ties between these two nations.
In 1868, Japan was the first East Asian country that underwent rapid modernization and its development was shared with Singapore from the 1970s onwards as the Japanese growth model was selectively emulated by the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan). Currently, as the most advanced economies in Southeast and Northeast Asia respectively, Singapore and Japan will continue to be demonstrative case studies of economic development in the region. There are similarities too between these two countries: an aging population, changing geopolitical realities, mature economies, and environmental challenges. The Merlion and Mt. Fuji is not just a historical account of the bilateral cooperation but also includes honest narratives on what it is like being a Singaporean student on exchange in Japan, an anime and manga fan outside of Japan, and some omotenashi appreciation.
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