Letter: Pain for Asia

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The Independent Online
Sir: If there is any meaning to Christmas at all, then your leader (24 December) need not apologise for visiting Seoul and Tokyo rather than Bethlehem. In the globalized economy they are also part of the world "family" and we neglect their current difficulties at our, and their, peril.

Korea and Japan have few natural resources. Both have made the only move open to them to develop world-class economies, which is to live off their wits. They are the most highly educated nations in the world, which is why in the end they will pull through this crisis. The people themselves are the natural resource.

As a densely populated island ourselves, we have much to learn from them, and they from us. More even than your editorial indicates. Sadly, naive interpretations of the secrets of the Tiger economies have concealed the real lessons, which come not from superficial cliches (left-wing or right- wing) but from sustained cultural and social dialogue.

At this time of deep trouble, the UK has an opportunity to further rectify its relative neglect of this region compared with the USA. Paradoxically, now is the time to increase the UK involvement. Friends in need are friends indeed.

Professor DENIS NOBLE

Oxford

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