East Asian industrialisation has shown that modern industry has occurred across different cultures under a variety of factor-endowment conditions. The global history of the diffusion of industrialisation over the past two centuries suggests two distinct routes. The first is the ‘Western path’ associated with capital- and energy-intensive industry. The second path to creating a modern industrial economy is the ‘East Asian path’ based on labour-intensive industrialisation that has built on quality labour resources cultivated in the traditional sector. This was the path followed by Japan from the nineteenth century and by many other countries in Asia during the twentieth century.