Serious Asian attempts to switch to a phonetic alphabet?

In Talking Your Way around the World, Mario Pei commented on the drive (specifically in Japanese, but it coupld apply as well to Chinese and other languages using ideographic scripts) thus: “The dead hand of tradition prevents this, just as it prevents any attempt to reform the spelling of English. Existing printed works would have to be totally replaced, which would be a time-consuming and expensive process, and in the meantime everybody would have to learn both systems, old and new.”
I also noted that in 1928, Kemal Ataturk discarded the Arabic script for Turkish, replacing it with the Roman alphabet. Apparently this makes sense: The Arabic alphabet has only indicators for three vowel sounds, a, i, and u,, whereas Turkish has eight vowel sounds. (I don’t know how Farsi and Urdu, which also use Arabic script, deal with vowels.)
Incidentally, I once read that, when Tolstoy’s War and Peace was reprinted in Soviet orthography, the printers saved about 100 pages (!!) just by dropping the hard sign (tviordiznak) from the end of words!

This may well be the case for Chinese, but in the case of Japanese this analysis doesn’t make much sense. The three systems that the Japanese use coexist: you’ll often see each of them used in a single sentence. There’s nothing to “relearn”, since Japanese speakers are already thoroughly familiar with both the phonetic (katakana and hirigana) and character-based (kanji) scripts. I think the Japanese could make the switch, if they wanted to, with relative ease. (Not so Chinese.)