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kuchikomi

Japan's middle class slowly sinking into poverty

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An astonishing fact: 92 percent of Japanese consider themselves middle-class, according to a labor ministry report published in 2019. That seems to clash with another fact: that nearly 40 percent of Japan’s work force is employed on a part-time or temporary basis, earning less and more vulnerable to layoffs than regular company employees. The point seems to be that you are as middle-class as you feel, or as you want to feel.

Then came 2020 and COVID-19. Spa! (Dec 29 – Jan 5) raises a question appropriate to the events of the year: Is the middle class dying?

It’s certainly weakening. The magazine’s headline is “The despair of the poor middle class. Take for example “Kazuki Saito” (all the names in the story are pseudonyms). He’s  40 and in real estate. His pre-coronavirus income of 6 million yen a year – plus bonuses and other benefits – was solidly middle class. It was not easy money – it meant putting in 80 hours a month overtime. He wishes he could do that now. But he teleworks now, and there’s no overtime pay in that. His income has consequently shrunk to 4 million. “What,” he asks, “about my housing loan? What about the kids’ school fees?”

What about them indeed? “Yuki Ota,” 44, is store manager for a men’s wear chain. His former 6 million yen a year salary is down to 4.5 million. Not only that, he never knows when the ax will fall. Business is poor; sales staffers have been let go in droves; his turn could come any time.

Unemployment would be devastating. He is a single father raising a 7-year-old son. What if he took the boy and went back to his parents’ home in Akita Prefecture? The cost of living there is just low enough that the unemployment insurance benefits he’d get would (though barely) cover it. On the other hand, the child has just begun making friends at school; to force a change on him and make him start all over again would be too cruel. His ex-wife takes the boy on weekends. She works part-time and is poor herself.

“I can’t let my son see how poor his father is," he says.

He’s found a solution of sorts: after working hours and on weekends, he works part-time delivering meals on a bicycle for Uber Eats. “It’s just the thing for single fathers. I deliver in the neighborhood and can look in on the boy from time to time. On weekends I take him with me. He rides on the back. We call it ‘touring.’”

“Minan Hirakawa,” 38, entered 2020 in high spirits. Her husband in finance was earning 7 million a year, the future looked bright – time, she decided, to put her elementary school daughter into a private school. The couple talked it over, agreed, and went ahead. We all know what happened next. Coronavirus struck, the husband’s earnings sank to 5.5 million, and school fees for the first year are 850,000 yen. The solution seems simple – send the girl back to public school. Simple, maybe – but unacceptable, Hirakawa decided. Come hell or high water, her daughter must go to private school.

It’s hell and high water. They began economizing by moving into a smaller and older apartment, reducing rent from 90,000 yen a month to 60,000. The new quarters are cramped and shabby, but never mind. They sold their treasured belongings at flea markets – he his golf set, she her brand name handbags. Did they think that would do it? They were wrong.

For eight years Hirakawa had been a full-time housewife. She made up her mind to go back to work. She found a job with a food processing plant in the neighborhood. Most employees are foreign “trainees” – a good thing, Hirakawa thought; she was unlikely to encounter there a parent from her daughter’s school. Unskilled and inexperienced, she makes frequent mistakes, and must bow to being sharply upbraided by her Vietnamese superiors. She grits her teeth. “It’s for the child,” she keeps telling herself, “it’s for the child.”

Is it really? The night shift pays better, so Hirakawa works nights. “Lately I can only be with my daughter for only a few hours a day,” she tells Spa! “But surely,” she adds, “when the coronavirus is over it’ll be better?”

It’s what we’re all hoping.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

68 Comments
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This is also a problem in America and Great Britain.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

The class gap in Japan has been growing for decades. It's getting towards the point of how it was 200 years ago with the ruling class Vs the rest.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Inevitable consequence during economic downturns (happen periodically for a variety of reasons) in a system where labor is manipulated like cogs in a machine by those who own the majority of the capital.

Never going to change unless the system is.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Moonbloom, it has nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with failed economic policy of the last several decades.

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Job and income insecurity are why I will never have kids. Way too risky.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

Unskilled and inexperienced, she makes frequent mistakes, and must bow to being sharply upbraided by her Vietnamese superiors. She grits her teeth. “It’s for the child,” she keeps telling herself, “it’s for the child.

I bet she'd have to bow more sharply and listen to a lot more yelling were they not foreigners. A bit of the usual bias against anyone not Japanese showing through there. Send the kid back to public school, lady. It's not the school, it's the schooling. This woman obviously needs some for herself.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

Japan's middle class slowly sinking into poverty

he husband’s earnings sank to 5.5 million

and that is being poor in Japan. In the west the people are making zero.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Japan's income disparity has been growing for decades. One thing that stuck out when I was here in the 70s was the large low-middle/middle class. People had less, but hardly hurting and this was the vast majority. The US in comparison had a huge gap - the poor were dirt poor and the rich were filthy rich. It was rare in Japan to see so many Benz's and the amount of conspicuous consumption like we see today.

This virus tainted year has and is going to have the rich easily overcome it while the middle/lower classes are going to get considerably poorer. Just look at the stock market with 30 year record highs for corporations. Unfortunately, the rest of the J (small) business world and common folk are in the have-not category.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

The hollowing out of the middle class has been happening for years and is a big backstory in Japanese society. The "slowly sinking" of the headline is a good description.

The accounts in the article though describe people suffering a hard disruption. The "rainy day" everyone is supposed to save for, or might get through with a bit of help from small loans or credit cards. If this turns into a "rainy week", then yes we are in big trouble, but lets talk about that when it happens. If it does, the government should start handing out a lot more than 100,000 per person.

The final example describes a woman destroying her family's life to send her daughter to private school. This may be her route to happiness, but would not be mine.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

For eight years Hirakawa had been a full-time housewife.

Those days are over honey!

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Actually the term "middle class" doesn't stand up to more sophisticated survey methods and is really more a matter of nomenclature than anything else. I've seen studies that broke down the wealthy/affluent segment into three separate levels, and also invited those in the so-called middle to describe their own self-perception as being a 中の上 (naka-no-ue, upper middle); 中の中 (naka-no-naka, the middle of the middle) and 中の下 (naka-no-shita, lower middle, or if you prefer, barely keeping one's head above water).

Sometimes I wonder if all that's keeping the retail economy afloat are smartphones and women's hair tincture. But then I look around me and marvel that four of the eight cars on my short street are German imports (plus one Harley-Davidson). Is Japanese society running on fumes, as many of the doomsayers warn? Damned if I can figure it out.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This is the result of neoliberalism brought by LDP cronies and their American masters. CNBC did an article on this topic a few months ago.

It saddened me more than both Japanese elites and common people will deny this reality and cherish the fantasyland within the Nihonjinron.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

Unskilled and inexperienced, she makes frequent mistakes, and must bow to being sharply upbraided by her Vietnamese superiors. She grits her teeth. “It’s for the child,” she keeps telling herself, “it’s for the child.

She won’t realize that those Vietnamese folks are not only increasingly becoming wealthy but also likely becoming masters, along with Chinese, among the Japanese in the future. Almost all Japanese companies now survive on the consumers in China and Vietnam.

Not only blue collar works, Vietnamese senior positions and even elite positions are increasingly common in Japanese white collar world. I knew many Vietnamese folks are comprising many prominent IT positions in Fujitsu or Sony, thanks to the cooperation between FPT (Vietnamese IT conglomerate) and Japanese government.

I bet she'd have to bow more sharply and listen to a lot more yelling were they not foreigners. A bit of the usual bias against anyone not Japanese showing through there. Send the kid back to public school, lady. It's not the school, it's the schooling. This woman obviously needs some for herself.

Japanese people would rather commit suicide than admitting themselves inferior or wrong to a foreigner.

11 ( +18 / -7 )

Japanese people would rather commit suicide than admitting themselves inferior or wrong to a foreigner.

I agree and it is a generational thing. 40+ year olds grew up pampered in the bubble days and are forever handicapped. Younger ones will adapt. Americans learned to suck it up and work for Japanese, etc.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Started under Kolzumi when he adopted the supply side economic fairy tale used in the USA to screw the middle class and the poor. Koizumi called it the winner dogs, loser dogs strategy. Yes the GINI coefficient for Japan is .32 and rising indicating concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. So Koizumi was successful. It would take bold leadership to change this long term trend in Japan and you can be sure that will not come from the LDP under Suga or the next PM after him.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Unskilled and inexperienced, she makes frequent mistakes, and must bow to being sharply upbraided by her Vietnamese superiors.

The fact that she makes a point they are Vietnamese sounds a bit racist. If they were Japanese superiors, it wouldn't even have been mentioned.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

he husband’s earnings sank to 5.5 million

and that is being poor in Japan. In the west the people are making zero.

It is poor if you are sending your kid to private school. This couple seemed to think they were rich just on the fact that the husband was in finance.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Lower Class - Below ¥ 200,000 a month

Middle Class - Average ¥ 250,000 - 450,000 monthly

Higher Class - Above ¥ 500,000 - Unlimited

Nevertheless, it's not about income, it's how you make yourself and your family happy. That you should know.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

And yet according to the Ministry of Finance, whose numbers are reported to the public year after year, Japanese profits are higher than they've ever been. Even with Corona, the economy is stronger than it was in 2002.

You don't have to look far in other countries to see where this is headed. If the 1% of wealthy aren't proportionally taxed, if corporations aren't scaled to support the middle class, Japan is going to slowly turn into a third world country. In 50 years the country will be unrecognizable, which some already say it is.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

When I was making ¥11,000,000 a year I did not feel rich at all. Even got rid of my car. Child support at that income level is more a year than BackPackingNepal claims is lower class.

I finally packed it in before this pandemic and that was the best thing ever. Live frugally, but travel and just enjoy with my spouse. Each and everyday we awaken, we smile and welcome the weather. To wake up is glorious.

I think people need to look at their own finances and own choices. Sending a kid to an private school is absurd. It is the staff and faculty that make a school. Not the prestigious name an institution might carry.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Lower Class - Below ¥ 200,000 a month

Middle Class - Average ¥ 250,000 - 450,000 monthly

Higher Class - Above ¥ 500,000 - Unlimited

Maybe for a single guy who only wears t-shirts, but with a family those figures are doubled and if in Tokyo maybe trebled.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@Reckless: With no mortgage, and higher than normal health expenses, without a car it is break even at ¥175,000 a month without a problem in the Tokyo area. If you boost up monthly cash flow to ¥350,000 you live an easy life and can save or travel as well.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@SandyBeachHeaven: If you consider living in a 1DK to be living.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@SandyBeachHeaven: If you consider living in a 1DK to be living.

Looks at the numbers he’s giving, it sounds like a crappy 1DK that would crumble in a decent quake.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Corona levels all to lower class, then this discussion will become obsolete.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

With no mortgage

There you have it. Most single guys pay 20-30% of their income in rent so you are doing well without that expense, no?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think it's because taxes are too high. Way higher than people realise. Calculating Income, Prefectural, city, social insurance, AND SALES taxes on a 3.3 million salary works out to around ¥1171400, or 35.5%

For a salary of 6 million you pay out ¥2365900 or 39.43%

If you save your money you'll still end up paying inheritance tax on whatever is left over when you die which starts at 10%. That's why I factor in Sales taxes beforehand.

That's the first half of the story. Your employer has to pay an additional 15.1% to cover your social insurance. Is that company money? The company has to budget 3.8 million to give you 3.3 million. Out of that total 3.8 million budget the government ends up receiving ¥1666400 or 43.91%.

¥3265900 or 47.33% for the guy with a 6 million salary. In Google statistics, Japan taxes don't seem so bad. In reality it's horrible.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

One of the problems is that everything is so damn expensive.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@ Jimizo

Looks at the numbers he’s giving...

A couple of days ago I was reminded not to believe everything you read on the Internet. I’d take everything some posters say like this with a cartload of salt.

I always get suspicious when people - especially new posters - ‘overshare’ details of their life like this online.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maybe for a single guy who only wears t-shirts, but with a family those figures are doubled 

No, they decrease with the number of persons in a household. If you need 150 000 yen for your lifestyle as a single, you'll need less than 300 000 yen as a couple (supposing you share your living place and domestic expenses), and kids depending on age cost less than adult as they won't need a suit car from age 8...

school fees for the first year are 850,000 yen.

Kuchikomi always invents unlikely cases. The proud lady would not even make that in a year at the factory.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Naomi Klein wrote about this more than a decade ago. It's called disaster capitalism. Sometimes those in power trigger events to put the working class and middle class at a disadvantage in order to exploit them, other times they take advantage of man-made and natural disasters to do the same. The results never change - money gets siphoned upwards, workers' lives become increasingly marginalised and their hopes and aspirations extinguished. End-game capitalism. Welcome to the Brave New World, we'd all best better develop a taste for soylent green.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The lady who insists her kid goes to private school should have got herself a qualification so she can earn more during more family friendly hours. Working nights takes her away from her child and sets a very poor example for her. Some qualifications can be had in six months.

It seems to happen very often, but Japanese reporters have some magical ability for setting up a likely premise, here that Covid-19 has kicked more people out of the middle classes and into the working poor, and then giving examples of people for whom the premise barely applies or who don't illicit much sympathy. Like all of us, these families did get 100,000 per person tax free, so they're probably only down a million yen or so in net income for one year. To misquote that old insurance advert, that may be a drama, but it is not a crisis. A bit of economizing and a small loan would cover it. I'll save my sympathy for the people who were on 3 million a year but have seen that shrink to zero or near zero.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Here's why - The invisible ideology - Part 1- Consumerism, capitalism and neo-liberalism:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-cP1prsBIo

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The definition of middle class varies from culture to culture, not all define it solely by income.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

LOL

Perceptions of middle class!

1)The amount of money your household brings home

2) How you spend the money you bring regardless of its amount, I see people barely scratching a living BUT have got to have the Latest Branded Purse or the latest set of Golf Clubs with membership at this exclusive club so others perceive your wealth or standing. Or living in Gov sponsored housing but you roll a Mercedes or a GTR, image seems to be much more important, projecting wealth and success through branded assets and being seen at certain events. This mentality is rampant in JAPAN, yet they cry when the facade ends, they realize that the lie they were perpetrating to show a stranger for a brief second that they supposedly had money because they were dripping in branded items was all for not. Especially when it comes time to sell it, you pay Y100,000 for a purse to only get Y10,000 when you sell if that.

Keeping up with the Jone's!

LOL

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As others correctly point out the decline has been going on in plain sight for decades.

I remember when I washed up on these isles beginning of the 90s the CONFIDENCE people had was extremely evident even though the bubble was ending at the time, fast forward 3decades & its a completely different world, covid has just been a big whammy on top of the decline.

Just a few things I have witnessed, the decimation of J-electronics companies, lots gone, some are just parts makers. The invention of happoshu, THAT was to keep the masses who were just starting to be hit with the decline, cheap liquor & its now MOST of what we see on shelves, nasty happoshu & even worse for you chuhi's! Sodai gomi has now become big business with recycle shops paying low & selling at high profit. When I first arrived sodai gomi helped bigtime kicking off my life here! All the super cheap retailers like uniqlo that basically are selling us GARBAGE as their goods end up in landfill in short order.

And the biggie is the presence of Y100 stores & in general a the CHEAP CRAP made in China that like cheap retail clothing ends up in the garbage dump in short order then we go out & buy more GARBAGE

Sorry bit of a ramble

7 ( +8 / -1 )

People in poor nations still seem to able to have tons of kids, but the rich ones can't.

Priorities are messed up, selfishness, greed plus lack of integrity and decency has ruined society

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Reckless: With no mortgage, and higher than normal health expenses, without a car it is break even at ¥175,000 a month without a problem in the Tokyo area. If you boost up monthly cash flow to ¥350,000 you live an easy life and can save or travel as well.

Yeah, if you are satisfied with never being able to afford a home of your own and never being able to have kids of your own, you can live an easy life in Tokyo in a 1k apartment for the rest of your days on 350k a month.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

but yet I see hoards of common people out spending hoards of money?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So many of you do not seem to get it:

A. Please look in the prefectures where trains run into most of the areas in Tokyo Center where you needed to go. Mine was Setagaya, so the Denentoshi was superb. I was and still at the beginning of the line. Got a seat no matter what time I travelled.

B. I was the primary bread winner.

C. I bought a 4 LDK with a 60 meter squared outside area without anyone looking down on me. Wonderful for the kiddie pools and kid parties and to have friends come over.

D. The ¥42,000,000 mortgage was a bear and especially after a divorce, but skimped and paid it off. No car, no super tv, no top of the line phone, but I did it.

E. High end building and very stable. Double pained Windows, lots of Southern sun and actually sun on three sides. Rarely use heat or air conditioning.

F. @Peter Neil: not a 1 DK. 4 Dk, and just had some reform work done too. Fabulous space ship toilet system. I tell it to lift the cover and can sit and ask for other cute things to help me out.

G. @Reckless: I agree but most people I know with a mortgage or renting pay more than 30% a month. I would not like that , but they come over and cook and are kind so it is ok. I pay for 5e food, and do he dishes too.

H. @BVD Of he Loom: weren’t you reprimanded yet to stop trolling? I never trust newbies either. Like you.

I. @ Englize: I agree exactly. You are quite perceptive.

People. Take some train rides and scope out areas that are a decent commute to where you work. You will be surprised at how cheap places are. Plus, if you buy a used place, you will more than half your borrowed debt and mortgage. Most used places to buy are reformed and look good. If you are a foreign person than get that outside space. It is fabulous, but go to floor four or above to keep away from mosquitoes.

Peace and be safe, and this is a nice site. Be nice to people.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Dave: Common looking folks spending money are just not flaunting what they have. No designer clothes, accessories etc. But use their money wisely and stay happy. I understand it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That seems to clash with another fact: that nearly 40 percent of Japan’s work force is employed on a part-time or temporary basis

Does it Really clash?

What if the main bread winner is making good money?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the result of neoliberalism brought by LDP cronies

Seriously, LDP is a far cry from neoliberalism. Can you imagine the 1980’s neoliberals spending public money to buy the entire population crappy Abenomasks, and spending loads of money subsidizing people to travel in the midst of a pandemic? Well there was no pandemic during the 1980’s for us to know for sure, but the neoliberals that I knew and loved wanted a smaller government rather than a paternalistic, big one that the LDP resembles.

The free market doesn’t always get it right, but it doesn’t get it wrong as much as big central government does.

Naomi Klein wrote about this more than a decade ago. It's called disaster capitalism.

I’m familiar with her claims, and felt they were nonsense. A wealth of criticism of her book can be found online. She took aim at the late great Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who was one of the greatest voices in favour of individual liberty and freedom in the 20th century, and got it very wrong.

other times they take advantage of man-made and natural disasters to do the same.

Well that’s a joke isn’t it - government spending during the pandemic was like crazy, and there hasn’t been a free market reform insight.

Waht we have had is central government and central bank borrow and spend policies, which is the opposite of the so-called disaster capitalism.

So if there are to be complaints, let’s complain about the central government rather than blame free markets for everything even when they aren’t the mechanisms that are being fallen back to.

End-game capitalism.

We are looking at a failure of government here. No a failure of individuals engaging in voluntary exchange in pursuit of their own objectives.

If one is to criticize the free market, first actually read about the free market mechanism from the mouths of its proponents rather than trash talkers like Klein.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I'm not worried about this, this is bad reporting. Japan families have enormous families wealth built over many generations, the money will last for many generations to come even if they don't earn income. No one gets rich from income, but rather based on inheritances.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/10/18/commentary/japan-commentary/japan-inheritance-windfall/

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

D. The ¥42,000,000 mortgage was a bear and especially after a divorce, but skimped and paid it off. No car, no super tv, no top of the line phone, but I did it.

With all due respect, all the guys I know who divorced lost everything, including the kids. But they did gain their freedom.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

With dogs it is harder. Most places won't rent to people with pets.

I am thinking of buying a place in Osaka but to save money i have to think about a bit of a hike to a train station.

Kanto can be quite expensive.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In my experience the 10% sales tax is the final nail in the coffin. That is as regressive as it gets.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Poverty concept in Japan has to be clearly defined. To be poor in underdeveloped countries means that someone has not income enough to eat three meals a day, no money to own a car or own a house or pay a rent of a decent house, no resources to purchase clothes, no medical insurance, no way to go to dentist. Over 90% of houses in Japan have air conditioning, this is considered luxury in real poor countries.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

When major corporations stop evading paying what they honestly owe in taxes, fairly pay their employees a decent and realistic livable wage, and stop over paying corporate CEO's, the middle class wont be burdened covering for all such losses, but also, politicians cow-towing to corporations and the rich are to blame as well, the idea politicians work for the people more and more is becoming a big joke.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That is a point. I always find it strange that people here always seem to have cars, especially in the provinces, no matter how poor they are. I mean, even homeless people have cars here!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

An astonishing fact: 92 percent of Japanese consider themselves middle-class

I remember a similar statistic told to me when I moved to Japan in 1980. But I came from a place where "middle-class" was contrasted with "working-class", and that contrast didn't seem to exist in Japan. In Japan, "middle-class" roughly translates as normal - neither rich nor poor. In the UK, it generally means posh and wearing a shirt and tie for work. I think the Japanese use of the concept makes more sense. My in-laws in Japan are a mixture of blue-collar and white-collar types. Plumbers, plasterers, gardeners, sales managers, 25-year service OLs, part-time supermarket workers. Not so different from my family here in the UK.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

*Lower Class - Below ¥ 200,000 a month*

*Middle Class - Average ¥ 250,000 - 450,000 monthly*

*Higher Class - Above ¥ 500,000 - Unlimited*

Lower ¥150,000

Middle ¥1,000,000

High ¥2,000,000

In between would be lower and upper middle class. Just my “feel” from living in Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the idea politicians work for the people more and more is becoming a big joke.

The people who reach self-fulfillment are not those who expect politicians to do anything for them. The opposite.

The last thing I want is for people from the government to show up at my door telling me they are here to help me.

We can get further ahead if we are individually empowered to make choices for ourselves - including the poorest among us who need assistance.

We are selling ourselves short by waiting for government types to do for us which we could simply do for ourselves, through voluntary cooperation with our fellow residents.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

BackpackingNepal Jan. 2 04:40 pm JST

Lower Class - Below ¥ 200,000 a month

Middle Class - Average ¥ 250,000 - 450,000 monthly

Higher Class - Above ¥ 500,000 - Unlimited

No wonder 92% consider themselves middle class......

More like 500,000 yen, after tax, before you can even think of calling yourself middle class.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Of the world’s 100 wealthiest people, Japan only has 2 on the list. Masayoshi Son at 34th and Takemitsu Takizaki at 41st.

However Japan does have a large demographic of “upper- class” with 2mill+ monthly income.

Sompo Japan Life Insurance surveys put the minimum cost of standard living at 180,000/month for a single person with no car and living alone.

For unskilled workers, their first year paychecks are usually below this amount, and many are forced to live with their parents or live in company dormitories.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"Bernard MarxJan. 2  09:22 am JST

Job and income insecurity are why I will never have kids. Way too risky."

I agree with this One Hundred Percent ("100%"). Thank goodness there is no requirement to have kids. The world is difficult enough without having kids let alone adding a heavy bookbag when trying to climb a mountain. Aside from money, kids make life way more stressful and allow for less relaxation and me time.

Here is the perfect solution to solving this difficult situation:

The Japanese Government should provide an Unconditional Universal Basic Income of at least 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) to all of its citizens. Further, the amount should always be adjusted for inflation. If an Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect, it would enable anyone who ever falls on difficult times to have a cushion. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income would be the equivalent of throwing someone who is struggling to swim a life jacket. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income should also begin in neighboring countries like Taiwan, Mainland China and so forth and maybe even become a Worldwide Cushion/Life Jacket for everybody.

It is time to get rid of this whole nonsense with classes. There should be no Upper, Middle and Lower Class. Society would function much better as a Classless society. Everybody and Everything should be all equal. It would work much better if wealth and other necessities were distributed evenly. No one should ever be denied food, shelter, water, money and fun. No-one should have more than anyone else as everybody's needs are equally important. No one is special and/or better than anyone else. We are all human and live and breath in the same World. Governments should make sure that everyone's needs are being met and as a result, Universal Basic Income for Eternity would be a milestone and also a cornerstone for making sure everybody's needs are being met.

This is really infuriating how we have individuals who live a lavish lifestyle by owning multiple mansions in various cities/countries, multiple luxurious vehicles, buying designer goods that are necessary and then we have individuals who cannot afford a room. It is time to get rid of indulgence and learn to live with less. Why does someone need multiple gigantic mansions???? Why can't they just be satisfied with a basic/ordinary home????? Rather than having extreme wealth and extreme poverty, it is much better if everyone had their fair share instead so everyone can live a high quality life. Universal Basic Income for Eternity would at least allow for everyone to have the basic necessities and have fun, not be denied any chances in life whether it be professionally or personally. Basic Income would also ensure no one ever gets rejected socially.

In conclusion, if Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect for eternity, everyone would be able to sleep better at night, have less stress and therefore have a better quality of life.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Baroque1888, where can I find this magic money tree?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Aside from money, kids make life way more stressful and allow for less relaxation and me time.

I miss the Me time but you do get good times with the kids in exchange. Not to be underrated.

The Japanese Government should provide an Unconditional Universal Basic Income of at least 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) to all of its citizens.

This sort of idea has appeal as a replacement for the array of other programs like the pension and other forms of assistance. Do away with those and replace them with a guaranteed minimum income.

However, it has to be paid for.

Taxing me to only then give me and my family back a universal income is pointless.

Tax me and the rich people like me, and give it to the poor.

Instead of taxing us as much, make us save / invest money instead. That way the money is still ours, not to be wasted by politicians or a tyrannical majority, but even the truly incompetent adults would too be assured of money to retire on or otherwise fallback on in tough times.

The only people who need the money from the government though are the poor and those who retired with insufficient savings.

If an Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect, it would enable anyone who ever falls on difficult times to have a cushion.

in the first place responsible adults should be saving for the rainy day by themselves.

We can all pay a little less tax if those of us who can look after ourselves do so. And those savings can be invested in the meanwhile, helping to grow the economic pie.

Everybody and Everything should be all equal

No way, Jose.

Everyone is not equal, and I prefer to be me and to pursue my own life without interference, thanks.

You can go opt into some such scheme elsewhere if you like, but leave the rest of us out of it thanks.

It would work much better if wealth and other necessities were distributed evenly.

Didn't they try that elsewhere already?

No one is special and/or better than anyone else. We are all human and live and breath in the same World.

But we do have different individual objectives. It’s not that some are special or better than others, it’s that people are different and make different choices in life according to those objectives.

We are not a bunch of drones, we are individual humans!

Governments should make sure that everyone's needs are being met and as a result, Universal Basic Income for Eternity would be a milestone

Government needs to do nothing for many other than keep us safe from a Chinese invasion and stuff like that, so universal is overkill. I don’t want to pay more tax so that my rich next door neighbor can also get money that they don’t need, and the feeling is surely vice versa. We can look after ourselves.

and then we have individuals who cannot afford a room.

if government focused its resources on that sort of problem rather than giving money to rich people, then we should be able to manage that.

You know I think if we rich people had to pay for our health care too rather than get it “free”, we’d surely find that would drive efficiency into the health system too, leaving more money to be spent where it matters.

It is time to get rid of indulgence and learn to live with less. Why does someone need multiple gigantic mansions????

Who cares though, what other people have?

Rather than having extreme wealth and extreme poverty, it is much better if everyone had their fair share instead

The richer we get the more financial resources we have to help those in poverty. If we are all equal, we’d all be equally poor. I admit it, I wouldn’t be bothered working if there was nothing much in it for me. I’d do what I want to do all day long instead, which could be worthless to the rest of you.

so everyone can live a high quality life.

I think that’s get everyone into equally low quality lives.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

For unskilled workers, their first year paychecks are usually below this amount, and many are forced to live with their parents or live in company dormitories.

That’s pretty much how I started out! It’s life!

A company is taking a risk when they are hiring someone with low skills and experience, and there are lots of such candidates each year as a new cohort enters the work force.

Get some experience and more skills, demonstrate some value - then you can start to command a higher salary. If they don’t pay you more, take your labour elsewhere!

that last step is easier said than done, but it is how it is done. It a also a step that doesn’t come easy in Japanese society, and that is something that the government needs to work in changing if it wants wages to rise. A more fluid, competitive labour market puts upwards pressure on wages.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What is the relationship between class / income level and contentment or even happiness?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That’s pretty much how I started out! It’s life!

Mine as well, fxgai.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But the neoliberals that I knew and loved wanted a smaller government rather than a paternalistic, big one that the LDP resembles.

Oh, would that be the neoliberals in the USA? Debt there has ballooned by $7 trillion in the last few years, under Trump. It is all the same worldwide, massive increases in government debt by so called conservatives.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Bernard MarxJan. 2  09:22 am JST

Job and income insecurity are why I will never have kids. Way too risky.

I am sorry to hear that. Family and kids have been the greatest joy in my life. but maybe I'm lucky. Nevertheless, people have more kids in poor countries than rich ones. And the rich don't necessarily have more kids than the poor in rich countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Middle class in Japan seems to be the number of material things a family has, I don't think its the quality of life. Its what the family want people to perceive of them and what they project to other familes. A house wife can have no salary but she can work or complain to her hard working salary man husband that she wants an expensive handbag. What does he do, buy it with a credit card, if not she will take 2000 yen from the family budget herself and save it until she can purchase one, while the poor salary man works to pay the debt off all the while carrying a bag lunch to work every day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Having worked in corporate Japan for almost 20 year and now in corporate America I would say that corporate America is definitely a better deal. Once you start getting into the "higher class" income bracket in Japan the taxes eat into so much that it's not worth the extra stress of having a higher paying job. The 401(K) system in the US and lower tax brackets mean that more goes into your pockets here. Plus the housing costs in Japan, weird bonus system and lack of widespread equity/profit sharing mean that it's hard to get ahead. That being said I loved my time in Japan and often miss it. Japan is more of a socialist system where the middle class rely on their pension and paid off houses with low property tax rather than building personal wealth. By the way 80 hours overtime for 6 million yen probably works out to a pretty low hourly rate for that extra time at the office.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Humility is a much neglected virtue in the modern world, but it's time it came back into fashion. Start learning to accept foreign bosses, it's all part of a globalized world.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan has infrastructure only matched by a handful of mainland Western European countries and Singapore/Hong Kong, combined with taxes similar to Canada or Australia. It is actually quite remarkable that Japan has achieved this.

I think that the cost-of-living can be slightly high (especially raw food seems to be bizarrely expensive in Japan) and working conditions more stressful. If Japan wishes to follow a capitalist supply side economics mantra, then surely it would be better to allow the cost of certain goods (food, transport...) to fall?

And on a side note about the middle class, it seems that there are some major global trends which no one seems to link up, youth underemployment and the shirking middle class.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can thank Japan’s huge national debt. No where for the middle and working class to go but down with that burden hanging over their heads.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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