"This must be one of the most insulting and unwelcome remarks targeting Japanese tourists around the world."
There's no other country in the world where paying for sex is so normalised, traditional, and so not-regarded as immoral, as in Japan. So it's not a surprising assumption to make. Many of the adult establishments in Thailand and Vietnam have Japanese owners.
1 ( +7 / -6 )
"It is a real problem for the economics community to solve."
Optimistic, considering the economics community hasn't been able to solve the problem for 30 years! I'd argue this is outside the scope of what economists can fix (name an example of economists successfully managing fertility rates for example). It's sociogical or cultural as much as anything. Japan is at a crossroads. Homogeneity and continued decline, on the one hand, or shaking things up with radical reform and maybe-just-maybe keeping the nose above the water. But this is the fundamental problem with the economists' magic trick of QE. It has acted like a painkiller up until this point and the body doesn't quite realise how serious the illness is.
3 ( +4 / -1 )
To suggest Japan's economic woes can be solved either by raising or decreasing interest rates or VAT is - as ever in modern Japan - a case of everyone concerned collectively ignoring the elephant(s) in the room. You can't grow an economy that's shrinking and aging at this rate.
Regarding monetary policy the LDP might accurately be renamed the 'Quantitative Easing Party' at this point. It's really the only thing they've had to offer for 2 decades. If this were Germany or Britain there'd be protests. In Japan, it's a case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
4 ( +9 / -5 )
Conversations about Japan's population crisis tend mention the rising cost of living, or ideas of overwork and "hikikomori" - but few dare to confront the idea that hyper-normalised and ubiquitous sex industry might have some role to play in it.
On the very basic level of daily sexual politics I think it changes the dynamic Tokyo. Compared to other cities in the developed world, women in Japan are so so passive; uninclined to make eye contact, let alone start a conversation with male stranger. It's as if that's not the "done thing" except in those down the road where money is changing hands.
Womenomics cannot succeed when it's so easy to become a hostess but near-impossible to become a manager. Honestly, I think a large section of the male population would be terrified of a woman who is simultaneously beautiful, has an MBA degree, speaks English. It's a kind of patriarchal utopia and they don't want to change that.
1 ( +2 / -1 )
Blase but true. What exactly are the fiscal strains the fiscal debt is placing on the economy?
To suggest that the debt is a non-issue, simply because it is domestic debt rather than external, is actually very irresponsible, and doing a disservice to the realities Japan must face up to.
I get the sense there are many out there who love Japan (rightly) and so won't hear a bad thing said about the country, who still cling to that mid-80s futuristic economic powerhouse image, but are on some level in denial. It exists among the Japanese as well. It's comparable to Brits in the 1890s who saw Empire and naval superiority as somehow inevitable, God-given.
There is no getting away from it: Japan in the 2030s and 2040s is stairing down the barrel of serious economic decline without radical policy changes, not least immigration policy. Robots are not going to be enough fix that.
To reitierate: What I am trying to get across is that it is largely irrelevant whether the debt is domestic or external or subject to default or not. The point remains the illusion of 'stagnation' for over 20 years now has only been something of a QE magic trick. Take all that stimulus away and the country would already be in depression. (And no, it's NOT the same situation as in the US, where 2% or so economic and population growth is quite likely for another 30 if not 50 years)
Should the UK, France, Germany, use their national banks to print bonds and let their public debt rip through to 300% of GDP, build themselves extravagant new bullet trains? Perhaps none of it matters.
-1 ( +0 / -1 )
Whenever this topic comes up, it's a guarantee someone will chip in with the blasé remark: "Oh but it's Japan's domestic debt, so it's fine." At which point they need to be reminded this is not a thesis on which sort of debt is worse; just look at this debt for what it is.
The point is that Japan's "mere" stagnation for 20 years has been been to a large extent illusory. Take away the QE stimulous packages and there would have been negative growth for many a year (or many more years). In the process of delaying the inevitable, the LDP puts off making the necessary policy reforms now that might avert crisis in the 2030s and 2040s. The QE is only a painkiller only to mask the symptoms.
2 ( +4 / -2 )
It's all 20 years too late, of course. Denialism and cultural exceptionalism are at the core of all the debt spending that's allowed Japan to coast along thus far. The lack of highly skilled, talented expats (and students) is significant; without a two pronged approach to immigration, attracting high and low workers, Japan's slump will never be turned around.
-6 ( +1 / -7 )
40% of the UK energy is renewable. Unfortunately, that accounts for only 10% of energy used, but the country is successfully undergoing a transition and will reach energy security in the future. The UK could, of course, take out trillions of pounds of Bank of England bonds in order to glaze over all its problems, but...
0 ( +2 / -2 )
Attracting global talent as well as necessary manual workers is the only thing to prevent an inevitable decline; not mere digitalisation of offices. It could not be quantified but my view is there is a link between age-old Japanese cultural exceptionalism on the one hand and this inability to address reality (or debt) on the other.
-3 ( +1 / -4 )
Whenever Japan's debt question is raised, it's guaranteed someone will chip in with the old chestnut that "It's fine, because it's national held debt". The fact is that, yes, in the case of an economy like Greece, external debt is an awful thing but, in the case of countries in relative fiscal health, there's a strong link between external debt and foreign investment and innovation. When it comes down to it, it's academic whether or not it is publicly or externally held; there is still no getting away from the fact that Japan's quality of life for the last 25-30 years has been sustained almost entirely on the babyboomer's credit cards. Japan's debt today is comparable to Britain's in 1945 - after funding a global war. I doubt the Japanophile tourists who come for a week to see the shiny streets of Shibuya and Dotonburi grasp the tax rises, the salary stagnation, the cracks forming in the infrastructure, the ghost towns, the newly-built coal power stations...
0 ( +1 / -1 )