Actually The Past Two Decades Have Been A Great Time To Be Japanese

Tokyo Living
Tokyo. Photo via ivva on Flikr.

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Americans tend to see the past two decades in Japan as a disaster, with a stagnant stock market and economy. But was it really that bad?Eamonn Fingleton in the NYT claims that Japan has had a great 20 years. We’ll paraphrase a few reasons:

  • Japanese life expectancy has increased 4.2 years, leaving Americans in the dust
  • Japanese internet infrastructure has become among the best in the world
  • Japan’s unemployment rate is only 4.2 per cent
  • Japan’s current account surplus increased threefold, while America’s current account deficit has increased fivefold
  • Tokyo has built more skyscrapers than New York, and it claims more top-rated restaurants than Paris
  • Fingleton quotes Japan watcher William Holstein: “The Japanese are dressed better than Americans. They have the latest cars, including Porsches, Audis, Mercedes-Benzes and all the finest models. I have never seen so many spoiled pets. And the physical infrastructure of the country keeps improving and evolving.”

Fingleton say Japan has let the lost decade myth flourish for various reasons, including to get out of the spotlight in international trade disputes.

Read Fingleton’s full essay >
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