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Japan worried about 2020 problem, or life after Olympics

38 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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38 Comments
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...ranging from increasing baby sitters....

A minute but telling point: That will never happen here. My first job at the age of 13 was as a baby sitter for my track coach's three kids while he taught night classes and his wife worked at Carl's Jr. (she used to stash winning scratch cards to tip me with. Still love Carl's Jr.). I learned a lot; they earned a (relative) lot. But even such a simple thing as a young friend of the family looking after the kids for three hours a couple evenings a week is and will remain absolutely unthinkable in this country.

It's not just the government, it's the culture, and until the latter changes, no amount of "arrows" from the former will make any difference.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Abe's lining his friends pockets with contracts giving himself that 5-6 year golden parashoot for himself and his yes men goons.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Bleak.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

How do you turn the Titanic?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There is one solution!!!

Japan as a nation can sell / lease itself to US before it is bought over by China at dirt cheap price or acquired forcibly by Russia. How about taking a nationwide survey on this thought and encouraging debates nationwide as a start? This would help Japan nationals to accept the reality of the situation.

Thinking deeper on this thought is a reasonable and viable option as there is so much of american influence over Japan post WW2. There is no real leadership left in present or in future Japan administration.

But for that to happen Japan needs to first swallow its pride, the sooner the better. With that proportion of industrial debt (whopping 3 times of its GDP) and the disastrous failure of Abenomics I don't see a future for Japan anyways.

Think of HongKong as a nation before and after the Britishers left. That could be a good example for Japan to set its thoughts in right direction and save its people from extinction as predicted by experts already.

Another drastic solution is to wait for the World War 3 in which case the only option available would be "might is right".

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Buyer's remorse.

Could Japan be our first example of how the Consume! Consume! Consume! model (at the expense of normal human behaviour) has left a society truly spent spiritually, economically and demographically?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

"Instead of modernizing the economy and taking other steps to address the powerful headwinds of an aging population and shrinking workforce, the government has turned again to its well-worn playbook of borrow and hope."

This is foreboding.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Should this not be called the "2021 problem" rather than the "2020 problem"?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

But for some, 2020 is another manifestation of what has been going wrong in Japan for decades. Instead of modernizing the economy and taking other steps to address the powerful headwinds of an aging population and shrinking workforce, the government has turned again to its well-worn playbook of borrow and hope.

For some? That 'some' would be anybody with half a brain that has been watching this farce unfold since 2000. So, what is the tally now? 16 prime ministers in as many years? And, everyone of them has been recycling the same old garbage. Koizumi tried to make changes, but was forced out of office by the stone headed fools with delusions of grandure. There will be nothing left after the Olympics. Japan will be joining Spain and Greece in bankruptcy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The design of the main stadium has been redone after a public uproar over its cost.

BS.....there was no "public uproar" it was the construction conglomerate in Japan that pitched a fit. The public has be vocal about any number of things besides the main stadium, like the restart of nuclear reactors, and the "reinterpretation" of the constitution.

It bugs the HELL out of me that the press and media conveniently obfuscate the actual reason for the change.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan is merely ahead of the rest of the world in graying.

How about Denmark? - it's society 'aged' much earlier than Japan and although the process wasn't as fast as it is in Japan, Denmanrk manages its society and priorities much better. Four-day working week for example is common, and it is consitently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Just build the dang stadium already

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why panic news now?where were this news when huge funds were pumping in Japan stock market few years ago?were these facts top confidential and not available at that time?!What will happen after 2020?life will go on like before,there will ups and downs,more over who can tell how the world will be in 2020?States is also in big danger with ever biggest dept in its history,so what?!what will happen is the same what happened before when much worse catastrophic crisis took place,it wont be end of world.finally,congratulation for hyper giant speculators for huge cash they got from Japan and China stock markets.See you soon again.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think that Japan needs to worry about winning some of the sporting events

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The wake up call never seems to come for gamblers. Invest into Fukushima and fix the nuclear disaster.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, at least China doesn't yet... pretty much own Japan's debt in the way that China owns the USA's debt. That's a boat that's been sinking and no one is willing to admit it out right. If China called in the debt, the USA is screwed but like a war with the US, China would be biting the hand that feeds it. If China were ever to own that much of Japan's debt, GAME OVER!!! Oddly, Japan's realastate is being bought up at an alarming rate by Chinese investors. Hmmmm.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lower property prices are good! Especially in countries where wages are falling.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Imagine if Japan thought about things before doing them, or even if they did them anyway but STILL halted their actions before it was far too late, instead of constantly waiting until it IS too late.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Countries like Italy, Germany, and others are already facing Japan's problems about aging societies and stuff. It's also said our countries will "disappear" because of Islamic migration. How many crappy news like that we have to read everyday? We don't even know what will happen TOMORROW. These articles are trash. Let people live their life.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The minute this sports day is over and the bills start coming in, we're going to see just how realistic the "Olympic is good for Japan economy" really is.

Let's face it, there is an Olympic festival every two years, be it Winter or Summer. Yes, people do travel there, and there is some short-term tourist moolah do be grabbed. But once it's over, it's over. It isn't a long-term strategy. Ask the people of Montreal and Sochi and Salt Lake City about that.

But let's consider the massive expenditure we're already into - train lines, single-use stadia - and the already inept ability of Tokyo to handle an influx of people (QV Today's JT report on how troublesome it is to have busloads of Japanese tourists showing up to spend their money :http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/chinese-tourist-buses-causing-headaches-for-tokyoites ) .

There is also the indisputable point that the JOC is hand-in-glove with the Yakuza (https://news.vice.com/article/this-may-be-the-most-dangerous-and-most-costly-photo-in-japan), which doesn't always lead to the most cost-effective construction contract.

We're asked to assume that people who attend the 2020 Olympics will be astounded by the fact that Japan has a unique culture (unlike any other country in the world) and that Japanese people are friendlier than any other Olympic-hosting populace. Thus Japan will have a crack-like addiction for anyone who touches it, and from 2020 onwards they will keep coming back for unique experiences such as eating food and seeing cartoon characters.

It's just not going to happen. 2020 is the straw which will break Japan once and for all. But don't expect to see any official figures about it - they will go straight up the chimney like the Nagano accounts did. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/digest/daily/jan99/nagano21.htm))

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lower property prices are good! Especially in countries where wages are falling, why anybody would want to buy into the Tokyo Olympics property bubble is just plain lunacy, I just bought a three story building, steel / concrete 500+ sq/m floor space/ 600sq/m land size. when constructed 20yrs ago it cost over 80million yen I almost stole it for 24million, with proper maintenance this building is good for at least 50yrs. there is so much cheap quality property in Japan just dont get sucked into the hype of "location location location" for a similar building in say the middle of Osaka it would cost over 100million yen

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Could Japan be our first example of how the Consume! Consume! Consume! model (at the expense of normal human behaviour) has left a society truly spent spiritually, economically and demographically?

No, not at all. The Japanese consume less than Europeans, and far less than Americans. Consumption is normal human behavior, just as it is normal animal behavior. People, like animals, consume more than necessary when they can get it. The quality of life you enjoy now is the result of this desire to consume. People want the best, the most efficient, and for the best price. And to satisfy this desire, pretty much all of the conveniences we enjoy today were created. You can move to places where people consume little, like sub-Saharan Africa, India, or Latin America. They very opposite of what you believe is in fact true.

Japan is an example of what happens to a country which is run by a close-knit cabal of bureaucrats and businessmen, who for decades have milked Japan of it's wealth, and an ambivalent society which is trained from childhood to conform and not complain. They have done this in several ways.

First, they have worked together to keep foreign competitors out of the Japanese domestic market.

Next, they have rigged the election system to give three votes to everyone in the agricultural sector, and then bought these votes with high tariffs on food.

Then they have made a solid system where one hand washes the other. A politician can spend a huge amount of taxpayer's money on various projects, and award the contract to one of his cronies. When the politician retires, he can get a seat on the board of the company which received the contract, or get his sons, daughters, nieces or nephews jobs at the company.

Another benefit to this is that the larger companies and industry groups can get together to fix minimum prices for goods, driving up costs. The Japanese market is still more or less closed to foreign competitors, so the Japanese people get stuck having to pay much more for goods than they otherwise would. And though price-fixing is technically illegal, the collusion between business and government insures that it is never punished.

They have created a government-backed financial system which keeps this system going. The government can amass great debt because nearly all of the debt is sold to domestic institutional investors. These same institutional investors are part of the large conglomerates which have divisions which do most of the large scale contracting for the government. The government sells it's bonds to M bank, and in return, M can expect it's other divisions to receive large contracts for infrastructure, defense, or other projects.

This system has been in operation for decades. It has created an overly high cost of living which is the primary reason the population is declining, and, at the same time, it has amassed a national debt far larger than any other developed country. This system has driven up prices, and driven down consumption. And it has painted itself into a corner.

I have done business with many of these companies, and none of them are looking forward to post-2020 Japan. They have used the words "afraid", "tragedy", and "I'm glad I don't have any children" to describe how pessimistic they are.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

At the start of this I thought it was going to be a BS story but thankfully it quickly started saying it like it is, sad as it is...........

Laguna VERY good point on the babysitting, I also did lots of that as well as shoveled snow & cut grass for a bit of coin, along with a paper route as my first jobs before a part time gigs at retail stores in my teens. Yeah precious little of that here, heck its very hard to even find someone to take in a pet if you go on holiday!!

I have harped about the need for a new J-Restoration for ages, Japan needs to re-invent itself wholesale, top to bottom to have a shot. But all we get are lit tiny bits & bobs that poorly attempt to cover symptoms, most problems are left un-attended

“The Tokyo Olympics is that one single bright spot.”

I don't think that is very bright, all I see is another pike of debt & a bunch of white elephants left in the wake....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japan during its history faced nuclear attacks and tons of natural disasters. But the Olympics...the Olympics will destroy the country! It does make sense. It sounds like Expo 2015 in Italy. Everyone " it will be the apocalypse for Italy!" Yeah, we have had our troubles, but finally we were able to end the works and Italy isn't collapsed. I am tired of these click-bait articles. The world won't end because of some absurd analysis. The world could end someday, but I bet nobody will be able to predict it. Also about simple economic trends, we see on daily basis how good are the "experts".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Laguna - you make a very good point indeed. For a culture which makes such a point of emphasising how close-knit and group-oriented it is, there seems to be very little team spirit unless it's mandated by an authority of some type, at which point it becomes an order to be followed without question. My kid's friend gets on very well with my dog, and loves playing with him. But to my fruitful vine, the idea of asking her to look after him for an hour or so if we need a bit of help is unthinkable. In my barbarian upbringing in the selfish gaikoku, some of the most magical evenings I remember were when the family next door asked me to look after their labrador. It wasn't an imposition, it was a treat. Not so here.

As you so wisely say,

It's not just the government, it's the culture, and until the latter changes, no amount of "arrows" from the former will make any difference

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Foreigners WILL come in & stay. No thanks to Abe. Business will ask them to stay. No other workers. The same people who on one hand don't want foreigners will want them on the other hand. How else will the low paying jobs be filled? With all the tourists, how will companies cater to foreign tourists?

If we build it (job opportunities) they will come.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is an aging society, but it isn't the only one. Articles like this do exist for other countries like South Korea, Italy, etc. Only try to search, there's plenty of them. Many of these articles have this "the world is over" feeling. They say South Korea could be exctinct by 2750, way before than Japan, with whom it shares the same economic and social problems. Honestly, I don't like sensationalism. It's also because I'm so tired to read similar articles also about my own country, Italy. "Italy is doomed" And some people "yeah, it can't be helped...." and stuff like this. Most of the developed world is facing the same kind of crisis (economical and demographic). So? We are able to face whatever history will bring us, in my opinion. We have to trust ourselves. Sensationalism is bad journalism. There's nothing sure about these gloomy prophecies. And if you know the "Self-Fulfilling Prophecies" theory by Robert Merton, you should agree with me, about the fact that this kind of articles can have a very bad effect on the society. Mass media have a huge ethical responsability, but for the sake of sensationalism they forget it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is nothing new. I think I said as much months ago. Sooner or later, the various games or tournaments will go that little bit too far and potential host nations will finally work out that they are being taken for a ride. I hope that Japan weathers it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They are worried because of their country's population problems. It's really hard to solve.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Economists position their opinions as having relevance for the future of humanity but in reality they just represent the machinations of the market which in most cases is just a reflection of investor sentiment. Investors in the stock and commodity markets are a minor fraction of the population of the earth but also the richest. Let them have their silly toys so the rest of us can get back to life.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What a senseless conflation of the Olympics and the aging population. The Olympics will be fine, I have no doubt. The Olympics were a success in London, and I don't see why Tokyo should be any less competent.

As for the aging population, yes, this is a problem that all advanced countries are having to face, but the doom-mongers are just ridiculous. Solutions, both economic and technological will be developed. Remember all those dire predictions, years back, of impending world famine? Now we have an obesity epidemic!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

raising the pension age to 75

Is this a joke? Waiting until 75 to collect your pension? People's salaries are already halved when they hit 60 and given the boot when they reach 65...which means a Yenless wait of ten years.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In 1908/1909, England introduced the first ever state pension -

The Act provided for a non-contributory old age pension for persons over the age of 70. It was enacted in January 1909 and paid a weekly pension of 5s a week (7s 6d for married couples) to half a million who were eligible. The level of benefit was deliberately set low to encourage workers to also make their own provision for retirement.

One important point to mention is that the average life expectancy in those days was about 50 years old for men and women.

On top of that, there were many other conditions -

Those eligible had to be over the age of 70, must have been a British subject for 20 years and have resided in the United Kingdom.[3] It was open to both men and women, both married and single, and their yearly means must not exceed £31.

I think that raising the pension age is not such a bad thing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The time limit for getting that debt under control may be running out, said Kazumasa Oguro, professor of economics at Hosei University.

“One day, it will be game over,” Oguro said.

The BOJ is buying all the debt now, so that might be the problem more than the debt itself.

Was at a event myself yesterday, focused on 2020. One of the suggestions from Horiko Hideji, a fund manager based in New York, was to just have the BOJ write off the government's debt - it owns so much of it, after all.

Two Japan based central bank watchers (one a hawk, one a dove) were both negative on the idea. But then people were negative on negative interest rates too. If Japan can get away with writing off the debt like that, great. But no guarantees it's a risk-free option, which is the problem.

“We still have time as long as the government acts,” he said.

But Japanese governments never do what is necessary until there is a crisis.

there is little disagreement over the inevitable that Japan needs to increase taxes and cut public expenditure to avoid a future debt crisis.

Some JT expert commentators dispute this though. Who is right?

Just the idea of an aging society is enough to work as a deterrent to consumer spending, as the young worry the government won’t be able to afford pensions in the future, said Chihiro Shimizu

I would dispute that it is the aging society that is the root of this concern - were the government not spending money in such an out of control manner, people would have more certainty about what to expect in future. People today should just accept the reality that plush pensions will be a relic of the past by the time they reach that age, and do what they can to address the risks accordingly.

Japan is good at working toward a goal like the Olympics because of a strong work ethic and organizational ability

Even that didn't shine through with the Olympic preparations so far...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

imAge is not what politics is about in JP, SO,BE WORRIED

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The good news is that we won't have to wait until 2020 before the global monetary system collapses. After defaulting on the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971, and severing any link between the World's Reserve Currency and gold, the dollar, which anchored all other currencies and thus limited debt government expansion to the amount of dollars in reserve, which was anchored by the amount of gold in reserve, served to constrain the belief that debt doesn't matter, and instead of letting the people vote on what to spend their money on, governments could indebt future generations simply by raising debt ceilings or borrowing more from their central bank. The global government debts, are being prevented from coming apart right now through trillions in derivative interest rate swaps. The cracks are widening as pending defaults in the oil sector, Greece, Puerto Rico, and the commodity sector have Deutsche Bank on the brink of bankruptcy, which will cause another Lehman event like in 2008, but on a global scale. When you have the Federal Reserve, sitting with $4.5 trillion on their balance sheet with only about $58 billion in capital, using mark to model accounting ( something you and I would go to jail for), picture an inverted pyramid about to tip over. Park cash into undervalued assets with no counter-party risk: like physical gold.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Deutsche Bank on the brink of bankruptcy

but can get a govt bail-out.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japanese government =Can't teach old dogs new tricks........so sad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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