Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Japan Now

Lately I seem to stumble upon countless conflicting news stories about Japan's economy. Some seem to think the worst is still on the way, others make believe that there will be "growth" and more good things to come. While its export dependence(and stronger yen) made Japan most susceptible to the global downturn, I feel that the Japanese people had/have the lowest expectations about near future prosperity/early retirement/ satisfaction. So even though the economic deterioration is unwanted and inconvenient, it is far from the surprise that the rest of the world seems to be experiencing.

I found this quote in a recent article( http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20090517pb.html ) that I shines some light on today's Japan :

"Last week, during an NHK discussion about the future prospects of people who are presently 35 years old, an announcer casually dropped a statistic that said 82 percent of all 35-year-olds in Japan make ¥2 million or less a year. These are the people who are now supposed to be the core purchasers of first homes, but if we apply the prevailing if outdated wisdom that says the price you pay for a property should be no more than five times your annual salary, then most of the members of this generation can't afford anything more than ¥10 million, which perhaps would pay for a shack on the side of a mountain in Fukushima Prefecture."

Is this the Japan you imagine? 2 million yen is close to $20,000. That is not so hot considering the cost of living in urban or suburban Japan is not cheap. Add in that many Japanese work 6 days a week. I wonder if the Japan optimists have been to Japan lately? And not just in Tokyo and Kyoto...have they been to the rest of Japan lately?