Bemusing, this talk of tax increases, when the modest tax hikes over the last 20 years have actually been nowhere near - absolutely nowhere near - the level necessary to repay the nation’s debt. This is the fundamental difference between Japan and the respective conservative governments of Britain, France, Germany. Debt is not a moral issue. There is nobody holding the government accountable. Hell, it’s hardly even a conversation to be had.
Japan would be the most expensive country in the developed world by some distance - were VAT and income tax to reflect its true fiscal health.
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Honestly, the sandwiches in convenience stores are staggeringly processed and using the most morally-unconcerned factory farmed meat imaginable. But yes, the underbaked milky bread is better when toasted.
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People in Tokyo often comment that London and Paris are more expensive. For the central bits that's true, but it's a bit like judging Tokyo only on Minato-ku. Certainly, there is a culture in Japan of cheap lunch sets and 100 yen shops and cheap public transport - sure, visiting as a tourist you don't feel ripped off - but beyond that, considering all criteria, I'd argue Tokyo is just as expensive.
Notably, healthcare is paid direct in Japan rather than from VAT etc (imagine manually paying €120 each month), while city tax is per person rather than per household. What a couple would pay together will likely be higher, in spite of the 10% consumption tax.
Foor food, many non-Japanese items are either hellishly expensive or of lower quality if they aren't (think Kraft Parmesan...) And vegetables! Yes, you can sit down to eat for 700 yen, but it's likely to be all factory grade meat and processed carbs. It's a very expensive country in which to be a vegetarian. Or eat wholegrain carbs.
While rent is expensive in major European cities, you only need casually peruse estate agents' windows to see how fairly average €1500 a month apts often come out looking like something that would be consideree super luxury in Tokyo. Then there's the "key money" ... and your pension payments.
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Japan has the right to amend its constitution if it so wishes, and I certainly welcome further alignment with NATO. The issue is that an increase in military expenditure is a luxury the government absolutely cannot afford. Given the choice between, say, purchasing F-35 jets or paying pensions... So-called "hawkish" memebers of the LDP in their 60s (and still apparently living in the 1980s) may go on kidding themselves for the time being but in the 2030s the choice will be much starker.
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The LDP has had nothing but quantitative easing as a get out of jail free card for over 20 years, and they're very fortunate -- at least for the time being -- that 90% of the public are to some degree either apathetic or totally ignorant of this fact.
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Any society that prioritizes work, economic growth and materialism
Don't forget protectionism, monoculturalism, and cultural exceptionalism...
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I sort of agree with the spirit of the article, but it's immigration that is the elephant in the room, not birth rates. Because immigration is something politicians can actually affect. There's no example in history of a government ever successfully managing fertility rates (not upwards, anyway). Leaving 12 trillion dollars of debt to the few children you have is apparently preferable to increasing the number of foreign workers by a couple of percent.
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Britain's debt at the end of the Napoleonic wars rose to 200% of GDP, fell as low as 30% around the turn of the 20th century, then rose to over 200% again by the end of WWII - with that debt largely to the US. Japan's debt is rapidly approaching 300% of GDP after 80 years of peace time. Just a thought.
The nation does have a strong military today, but it really couldn't succeed without very substantial bankrolling from allies. The idea of military expansion in the 2020s is a luxury it cannot really afford and in the 2030s the choice (between buying fighter jets vs., paying pensions) will become starker.
Still - that's not to say I'm not in support of Japan and NATO. There's a sad minority of misfiring iconoclasts (or Russkis...) floating about. Russia is clearly the aggressor and Putin is a tyrant, dragging the country in the wrong direction to such an extent that it will be struggling to keep ahead of Mexico and Indonesia in the coming years, let alone Western Europe. NATO is a defence organisation and the greatest trick Putin has pulled is to get even Westerners repeating this line that NATO is threat to Russia's national security. Nobody's interested in invading Russia.
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The last 30 years has been like boiling a frog from cold water; everything has come on so slowly, so incrementally that the creature remains oblivious. Certainly, it has never become the global evening news headline. Compare that with Brexit. By contrast, I'd argue the problems facing Japan in the 2020s and 2030s make Brexit look like a picnic. Nothing would jolt Japan into the headlines unless accompanied by an earthquake (and even then, the disaster would the scapegoat to explain the economic woe, not Japan's government or lack of dynanism)
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Many complain the gov is heaping more burden on the tax payer. The scary thing is: it isn't. If Japan were actually in any sense fiscally responsible (and saw debt as a moral issue as Germany does) taxes would be so much higher than they currently are. BOJ bonds have been the LDP's solution to everything for over 20 years. Yes, the taxpayers will suffer the burden, but for the time being the grey old men at the LDP are content to delay the inevitable just long enough to hand the problem over to the kids.
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So conservative in these respects, while absolutely blasé and gung ho regarding public debt spending.
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To have any chance of paying back the public debt the IMF recommends consumption tax rise to 15%. Which could not be considered 'high' - except for the fact public health bills are paid additionally, separately. Japan could likely succeed in VAT rises with an adequate influx of tourists, more talented expats, more international students (but....)
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