Western political scientists and sociologists have shown strong interest in causal relations among participation in voluntary associations, trust norms, and political efficacy in democratization. However, few have explored appropriate explanatory paths among these concepts in East Asian democratization processes and civil society. In this paper I use data from the 2012 Social Capital Survey in East Asia on accessed networks, participation in voluntary associations, political efficacy, and social trust. A surprising and unique phenomenon in relations among civic participation, political efficacy and social trust was observed for Taiwan compared to the other three countries (Japan, Korea and China). Participation in voluntary associations was very low, but the volume and variety of social resources embedded in accessed networks were exceptionally high. Apparently, the majority of the voting public feels incapable of influencing government performance, therefore they have very low interest in politics and very high distrust of government agencies. However, they do show concern about neighborhood issues and claim that they are willing to contribute to their society. Results from comparative and descriptive analyses of the survey indicate that Taiwan and Japan are at two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of hierarchical structures of civic organizations. In Taiwan, organizational social capital tied to participating in voluntary associations apparently does not affect personal, institutional, or general trust, yet individual social capital embedded in accessed social networks affects both personal and general trust. In contrast, the largest percentage of participants in voluntary associations among the four countries in the survey was in Japan (>80%), creating organizational social capital serving as the basis of institutional and general trust.