I have just come across this article, I have found Japan to be no more expensive than New Zealand, I would struggle to get around the country with out my Japanese wife, there is English around, the JR rail has a massive board up where all the trains go in Japanese and the ticket machines have an English option but if I can't read the board to know how much to pay for a ticket even though the machine is in English it is of no use to me. Japan is an amazing place to see! So much history and culture, beautiful buildings, Japan can show case its self with the Olympic games but the lack of English speaking people makes its a very difficult country to visit! I have visited Japan about 10 times, I can just at a pinch order dinner and buy a coffee but its not easy. A simple easy fix like most European countries do is make English a second compulsory language. Japan has so much to offer tourists, clean, good transport, great weather in spring and autumn ( summer is pretty hot) good food which is priced all ok to me. Lots to see and do, Disney land, Universal Studios Japan, Castles to visit, Akiharabara the biggest electronic district in the world just to name a few!, Japan is an amazing place only let down by its ability for its people to speak English.
Thanks Bruce (New Zealand)
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sangetsu03 -One of the causes of low wages is that many companies are overstaffed. Full-time permanent workers in Japan are almost impossible to fire. In many companies you will find two workers assigned to one position, this is because one of the workers can't, or won't work. So, another worker is hired to do the work. When companies are heavily staffed, and cannot reduce their headcount, they have to pay less, so salaries go down, or simply don't go up. This being the case, many companies have stopped or reduced hiring full-time, permanent staff.
I lived in Tokyo for a year (amazing place) and one of the things I wondered is how can business make money with so many staff, walk into a shop or a bakery and compared to NZ you see so many staff, its amazing! Where I think you need one they have 3, when I visit a small bakery in Oji and I see 5 or so people working in a we shop making cakes I wonder how can such a small business support all these wages.
I think what people don't want to understand is that its over, the world bubble has burst, Japan is not the only country with the same problems, aging populations, declining birth rates. We only know one system, all the good ideas have been used, Abe and any other politician can't do anything to fix it. USA is broken, NZ is broken, Australia is broken, Japan is broken, most of Europe is broken. Global trade has failed the world due to an imbalance in labour rates and standards/cost of living in other countries. Companies have become bigger than what their own country demands due to exports. Once everyone has a car, fridge, TV then you are only operating on the market who upgrades every few years.
The world is not that big, it is not an endless place to sell to, more competition, as my Japanese father in-law said to me over a beer one night "The Glory days are over" He lived through the war, he has seen Japan become powerful and now he is witnessing the decline, he is unlikely to see how this will all unfold and this will go on for years and years, people will look back and always hear stories about the glory days and want back to then. Time is an amazing thing, there is no stop, no rewind or no pause, we are on constant play, we get one chance to get it right and we seldom do.
Be strong Japan you can get through it, the battle is long and the ride will be rough.
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