The economic surge of Japan and several other Asian countries after World War II was a surprise to many, but once "awake", these countries seemed ready to take over the world. The countries in focus, named High-Performance Asian Economies (HPAEs), are Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The countries belonging to the HPAE tried to join the incumbents in the field of world economic order, and western economies felt threatened ever since Japanese growth rates first surpassed theirs. .
Free-market capitalism seems to be the main characteristic that can be ascribed to rules of exchange, property rights and governance structures resulting from the leading conception of control described above. In fact, the dominant approach to all international economic development has presented itself in this form. Some important rules of exchange in the world economy are rules concerning trade. The governing institutions in this field define the rules of exchange. This governance structure comprises large international institutions such as the WTO and the IMF, that attempt to safeguard and dictate desired rules of behaviors that all players in the field should comply, and they try to settle problems that occur within or between individual countries. Obviously the large players in the world economy implicitly determine the rules of exchange. Free trade, by opening markets for incumbent industries, is in the natural interest of the most powerful nations. The powerful role of industry in the political process will generally cause capitalist countries to seek to open the markets for its exporting industry while at the same time protecting import competing companies. (Fligstein, 2002).
Japan's economic growth miracle is one of the most startling phenomena of the time. Since the 1970s, Japanese businesses have surpassed American and European businesses in such diverse fields as steel, cars, consumer electronics and watches.