Japan has cultivated an immensely positive image among countries in the Sub-Saharan Region of Africa. Its industrial prowess, its post-war image as champion of peace, and its generous contributions of aid through its ODA lie behind this image. Beyond this, it also has long been regarded as a model of how a non-western and non-European country can successfully undertake a fast paced process of modernization. It is especially appealing as a model for African states to emulate in that the country managed to achieve its modernization without having to bear an undue cost of erosion of sovereignty and cultural integrity. This paper is a comparative examination of the early and divergent approaches to modernization that were adopted by Japan and Ethiopia.