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Looking back: A bygone boom era when Akihito became emperor

28 Comments
By Anne Beade and Miwa Suzuki

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Japan Inc has never regained its glory, and the country is now struggling with a string of challenges ranging from a rapidly aging population to innovation woes.

The glory, as we are finding out more and more today, based upon falsified statistics, shoddy workmanship, and over inflated egos, along with a government that used policies that have placed an enormous burden on children not yet born here!

15 ( +16 / -1 )

"It was wrong to believe that loose monetary policy would rehabilitate the economy," said Haji at NLI, referring to a years-long program by the central bank that has barely moved the needle on inflation.

WAS? Get your head out of your butt please! IS wrong to believe it, as it is continuing today, 30 years after the fact!

"We must admit that we don't really know that the cause of this sickness is," he adding, saying that a widening gap between the rich and poor, and worries over the future, could be factors.

You must admit that you can not open state the cause of the sickness! You can not look in the mirror and say you and those who ran things back then, and still today, can not admit your failings openly. You can not say the system you created and ran is broken, and you are all unwilling to suffer slap to your pride!

You and those who ran things into the ground are the cause!

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Back in the day when holding two fingers in the air sure got the taxi drivers attention.

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@yubaru - you are correct. Unfortunately Japan, the U.S., and much of the world is now engaged in a very loose monetary policy. It is not sustainable (contrary to what our politicians want us to believe). The fallen middle class, bailed out banks, and stagnation are evidence of this.

The "bubble" was just that...a bubble...a transient event which could not be sustained.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

The hubris back in the bubble years. I've lost count of the number of Japanese businessman who took me out for dinner (where I learned that fugu was expensive and over-rated taste-wise) and drinks, then ask 'How much is Manhattan (if there was someone from the UK, Hyde Park) worth', and then go on to tell me the property the Imperial Hotel was on was worth more. They straightlined the increase in the value of shares and property, squandered billions on lifestyles few could afford.

And Japan pays the price for that hubris today.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Heisei era was an unbelievable time. Companies giving gold Rolex to job candidates to lure them to work for them. 2 week ski holidays to Europe and Canada. Bonuses so big, people struggled to spend it all. It is very regrettable the boom era ended. Japan would now be the richest and most dominant nation on earth. Let us hope these times return!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Japan is like a house that has great curb appeal but the inside needs major updating if not a strip to the studs.

The problem is pride and not willing to admit mistakes. It’s sad hearing Ikegami Akira talking about early Heisei Japan in a regretful tone of admiration as if Japan is a has been country that’s already seen its glory days.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And Japan pays the price for that hubris today.

Yeah, the people who didn't have anything to do with it you mean. The persons responsible for the debauchery could enjoy their lives without facing the consequences.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

80s boom, whatta time! Now debts

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Until the current generation of politicians and bureaucrats are gone, we can expect little change. Many are in their final years of employment prior to shuffling off to retirement (or Amakudari).

Why rock the boat when they can look forward to a generous pension or milking the system from the private sector, both of which would be under threat if fresh new faces and ideas were to come along.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

80s boom, whatta time! 

You said it mate. What a time.

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Anyone that was in Japan at the time time has stories to tell. Myself included!

The period from '86/87 until '90/91 was utterly surreal. A truly once-in-a-lifetime period.

Even into '94, people still clung to the idea that the bubble days would return.

1995 was the year that Japan realized the bubble would never return. The Kobe earthquake in January, the sarin gas attack in March, and, most notably, the JPY/US FX rate rose to JPY 79 in the summer of 1995.

1995 was the year that everything began to truly unravel at lightening speed.

But, of course, at a personal level, many Japanese were feeling the pain from 1990 onwards, due to the market value of their shareholdings and the various loan obligations they had, particularly real estate debts!!

I am good friends with a well-known Japanese talento, who bought a property in Minato-ku in the bubble era!! I spoke to him the other day!! He said, "I finally got it paid off!!" I said "Omedetou..??!!" He laughed and said.... "Well, now I can die without leaving any debts to my family"

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yeah, now the Japanese don’t feel too rich anymore but the problem is not the people.The BOJ’s advice and directives to the banks in Japan was to stop lending against assets.

The intergenerational loan was a product that allowed the kids to pay off the house that father had bought!

Well, it had to stop somewhere and the expectations of a poor people suddenly rich, have now been dashed in a generation - how poetic...

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The period from '86/87 until '90/91 was utterly surreal. A truly once-in-a-lifetime period.

Absolutely. Days never to return. What ever happened to the big hanger building in Honda / kyobashi that was to become the world center for 24 hour stock trading? Such was the dream.

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Japan would now be the richest and most dominant nation on earth. Let us hope these times return!

Japan was and will never be the richest or most dominant nation on earth, the 80s had one contributing factor that was absent compared to today, and that is China. To surpass China or America in the 21st century would be an economic impossibility, Japan has neither the resources or people to do it.

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dubbed an economic "miracle", fuelled by innovative electronic goods, that reached its pinnacle in the late 1980s.

Stop with this silly innovative thing concerning Japan during this period. The country was never innovative. It was just flooding the world with cheap electronics that were in majority copies of western competitors but sold much cheaply. There was no innovation in selling rip offs at cheap price. Japan was the China of today.

In fact there wasn't a so called economic miracle in Japan. The economic bubble was fueled by a cheap and obedient work force, a disastrous environmental impact (the Minamata disease is an example of that for those who have short memory) and the development of an undemocratic and authoritarian society that not only until today greatly limits the freedom of people, but also caused an enormous amount of suicides among the population. I really doubt that anyone sane in their mind would call this a miracle.

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@wtfjapan: the only comment that does make really sense. And Americans should learn the same about themselves. Economic growth CAN'T be forever, and at some point, Countries with MORE population than yours, and with the same (or more) resources and territory, will surpass you. America CAN'T win against China because China has MILLIONS of people more than America, plus a huge territory and many natural resources, exactly like the US. If you think about it, what Japan has realized is really some kind of magic, because it's not possible objectively for such a small Country both in territory and population becoming the First World economic Power. Japan was able to compete with the US for that place also this way, and it's really impressive. It's only obvious that someday its natural limits would have stopped the crazy growth. Every Country must only find its own model of development without excessive expectations. And, I repeat, the US must learn this too. War trade, or worse, war, can't change American limits compared to modern China.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@daito_hak: Your comment is hilarious. Cheap electronics? Say that to my 30 years old Hitachi TV. I had to change it only because of digital terrestrial television. I never saw in all my life better quality than old Japanese and German products. Today electronics, of any nationality, are mediocre at best, thanks to globalized production. You can write whatever you like, but many people experience is different.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@daito_hak: cheap work force? Japanese salaries were higher than American and European salaries during that period. I understand you dislike Japan, but what you are writing is obviously false.

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@daito_hak: During the 80s and 90s my family had only Japanese electronics, and they were expensive as hell, but really good, so you were okay with buying such expensive things, because the quality was very high. If you want to rewrite history of an age that some people LIVED personally, that is another story, but it can't work. Your memories don't fit mine at all.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Heisei era was an unbelievable time. Companies giving gold Rolex to job candidates to lure them to work for them. 2 week ski holidays to Europe and Canada. 

I was presented with a pearl tie-pin by a Japanese businessman i the 80's. I still have it. one of my last reminisce of a bygone era.

Also presented with a beautiful gold cigarette lighter. Agaiin, still have have but quit smokng long ago.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Plus, this article didn't speak about the Plaza Accord forced by the US on Japan, that is known like the main factor in the Japanese crisis. Indeed, China will never let a similar deal forced on itself.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Plaza Accord forced by the US on Japan

So you’re blaming the US when you should look at the people in charge here speculating and accepting bribes.

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@quercetum: the Plaza Accord Is considered the main factor by many economists, not by me.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why nobody blames the govt and the amukudari system, kandenren, Nippon Kaigi? For over 20 years the economy is crashing down. Blaming bubbles and world economic factors is a smokescreen to hide the fact...japan has and is run by clueless idiots.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@quercentum: the Plaza Accord forced a sudden revaluation of the yen about 50%. It wasn't decided by markets, but by American politicians. Such a huge and abrupt currency revaluation would crash any economy.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Actually, the great boom years were not all good. I remember certain areas of Tokyo and other towns and cities being in great poverty, children with no shoes and socks on their feet.

Remember all the "Japanese Only" signs.

Remember the disgusting immigration office at Otamachi.

Remner how disabld people were treated.

Fagbends all over the subway system.

Books of matches which explode in your pocket.

Some change's are for the better.

Definitely miss the old phone cards.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@goodlucktoyou: Simply Japan, as any other old developed Country, is a saturated market. There's not space for further growth like in China, India, etc. If the West accepted this fact, maybe we could avoid dirty wars for more resources all the time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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