Nations from Imitations to Innovations: The History of Innovation & Technology Development in Korea & Japan

By: Mohammed Ahmad S. Al-Shamsi

Published by: Blurb, Inc.

Publication Date: September 2022

ASIN: B09VBBKN9D

Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott

Review Date: March 11, 2022

A scholar, inventor, and internationally known expert in the exploration of industrial development and international cooperation, Professor Al-Shamsi examines two countries that rose from isolation and devastation to a recognized position in world commerce in his newest work, Nations from Imitations to Innovations.

Japan, whose upward trajectory comprises the larger portion of Al-Shamsi’s treatise, was once, many centuries ago, a self-contained island nation whose weapons of war were swords and shields. A major defeat in warfare in the seventh century prompted a surge in the development of firearms, largely based on imitation. When Americans began to explore the region, shipbuilding was another outcome, along with further, internal advances in weaponry for defense on land and sea. In the sixteenth century, a missionary brought a mechanical watch to a Japanese feudal lord, and a long search began to find ways to duplicate, and then improve on, that technology, to the point of inventing mechanical dolls run by the same mechanisms. In the 1800s, Japan started its mechanization of the cottage industry of cotton spinning. In each case, the “copycatting” was demanded by government, industries sprang up, and innovation became a natural outcome of the initial imitative endeavors, with profit and employment




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as prompting factors. In the case of cotton weaving and spinning, for example, in just 70 years, by 1929, Japan had become one of the world’s largest textile exporters. Following World War II, Japan rose from near-total destruction to world leadership in the manufacture and sale of constantly improving products: motorcycles, automobiles, electronic and computer technologies – think Kawasaki, Honda, Toyota, Nintendo, Sony to name only a few.

South Korea’s move from devastation to imitation to innovation was shorter, though no less remarkable, considering that the country was occupied first by Japan, then by the US in modern times, and only began its upward trajectory in 1953. Kia, Hyundai, and Samsung are among the nation’s most recognized products, and innovations also include mass shipbuilding, upon which their distribution is based.

How these nations rose to such prominence in such a relatively short time is a result of many preponderating factors, including legal policies, education expansion, and awards-based incentives, but surely, Al-Shamsi subtly projects, also a result of an in-born determination to excel. His book, based on his diligent personal research and connection to many of the realms examined here, brings this astonishing information to light, benefitting not only individual and corporate entrepreneurs and students of international commerce, but any person setting out a new path after heavily discouraging setbacks.

Quill says: By tracing the history and delving into the cultural dynamics of the two nations highlighted here, Professor Al-Shamsi has created a wide-ranging panorama that will fascinate readers with its factual content and its implications for current and future world developments.