Rumors of Japan’s Imminent Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Yves here. This is a short video on Japan. It challenges the prevailing media narrative that Japan’s aging population and high debt levels spell disaster from an economic and cultural perspective.

One mild sour note was the suggestion that Australians could take on more debt than Americans have. Australia has seen a remarkable increase in personal debt levels since the early 2000s, to the point where consumers are heavily burdened by advanced economy standards. The video also has ads in the middle (!!!) but you can skip them after five seconds.

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  1. Jan Krikke

    It is a provocative position but seems to reflect Japanese policy accurately. The source is somewhat tainted by his racist views. Are there economic arguments to make against Japan’s approach?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I worked extensively with the Japanese and you are really off base here. The Japanese are famously intolerant of foreigners. He is articulating the very strong Japanese preference for ethnic/cultural homogeneity. Even Japanese children who have spent some time abroad are bullied harshly for having become somewhat foreign in the manner and way of thinking.

      1. Joel

        One little data point: many people of Korean ancestry born in Japan (to parents who were also born in Japan) are citizens of Korea rather than Japan, and vice versa. Many of these Koreans who aren’t Japanese only speak Korean poorly, practically as a second language.

        Amazing for anyone from the Western Hemisphere, and probably even for Europeans, but that is the norm in Asia.

        1. digi_owl

          Seem to recall reading that certain cities that has had historical Korean quarters still carry a price stigma.

          And that people with Korean ancestry assume Japanese names in public, though they maintain their Korean name on paper.

      2. Jan Krikke

        Yves, I agree that many Japanese have issues with foreigners (I lived in Japan for seven years) but would argue it is based on culture, as in “superior culture”, as well as race. Both forms of exclusion are outdated, but the distinction is worth pointing out. In Japan, aesthetics and ethics are abstractly related, which goes a long way in explaining their sentiment. Some Japanese mistakenly presume that having a “superior culture” also makes superior people.

        On the issue of Japanese debt, I think Gwen below makes an interesting point and it probably answers my question.

        1. Synoia

          It appears to me the Japanese culture is based on obsequious response to an historical feudalism.

          I did not much enjoy my time in Japan, and found the people superficially polite, and not genuinely polite.

          I’m still surprised at my reaction to Japan. I’ve traveled widely and not had such a negative reaction to a culture before.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Entertaining video, very informative. Its amazing how many people don’t see the difference between GDP growth and GDP per person growth when discussing population and economic growth issues.

    Just on one point made about working hours – he says the Japanese work fewer hours than the Irish – I don’t know the figures, but on a purely anecdotal basis I don’t think its correct to say that the Japanese have come to grips with ‘unofficial’ overwork. I know many Japanese living here in Ireland (I’ve two staying in my spare room this month) and without exception they say they find working conditions far better in Ireland/Europe. Its purely anecdotal I know, but I know several who voluntarily opted for fairly menial work in Ireland/Europe over better jobs in Japan, solely because they want to escape typical Japanese working conditions.

    The article does talk about automation, etc, as being an option to mass immigration for Japan, but my perception is that outside the main cities in Japan there is still a lot of ‘make-work’ – shops that seem ridiculously overstaffed, etc. It would seem to me that the very rigid Japanese labour system works against them in this sense – there would be a lot of scope by just reducing work hours.

  3. gwen

    Your question was why is Japan using their eonomic policy of reinvest/buy back of debt. Simple it keeps their culture insulated form outside sources. Very interesting presentation. I plan on looking at your other videos.

  4. Uahsenaa

    Considering the recent comments kerfuffle largely hinged in part on the spewing of racist bilge, I’m rather surprised to see a video posted here doing the same. But let’s take things as they stand.

    1) The argument concerning Japanese debt is perfectly sound. Mark Blyth makes this point all the time, if you ever watch any of his talks.

    2) Where it goes off the rails is when he starts to make his, to my mind, rather racist arguments re: immigration. First off, the migrants that have arrived in Germany and various other European states haven’t found work, for the most part, because they’re refugees from the war in Syria, a war not made any better by several of the Western states into which these people have been fleeing. The immigration situation in the US is quite similar. We have destroyed the economies and fomented political unrest in various central American states, so their populations have been fleeing to the relative security of the North. This is a matter of proximity. If the Korean peninsula were to implode in the next year or two, I can imagine Japan having similar issues with migrants trying to flee to the archipelago.

    3) Non-native Japanese are invisible in society because the national and local governments do everything they can to make sure they remain cowed and afraid. They’re also heavily concentrated in the central part of the country, so if you never set foot outside Tokyo, you’ll never meet any of the Brazilians or Filipinos who make Japan’s industry run. I lived in Aichi. It’s blindingly obvious just how non-homogeneous the local population is. Moreover, your average white guy living the ex-pat dream can’t tell a zainichi Korean from a “native” Japanese, precisely because Koreans living in Japan do everything they can to conceal who they are, even going so far as to adopt Japanese names (though this has become less common in recent years).

    4) Japan is “clean” because it exports most of the solid waste it cannot incinerate, and this doesn’t even factor in the toxic hazard that Fukushima and its environs still are. The government goes out of its way to suppress any reportage on this fact.

    5) The use of straightforwardly racist imagery at the end of the video of black and brown folk protesting papers over the fact that the reason they’re upset is because, especially in the US, agents of the state actively hunt them and, as we have seen with a number of high profile cases, law enforcement can murder them with impunity.

    I would get into the history of the myth of Japanese racial homogeneity, but Oguma Eiji has already written an excellent book on the topic (A Genealogy of “Japanese” Self-Images), so I’ll leave things at that.

    1. Alex Hanin

      I don’t think I saw or heard anything ‘racist’ in this video. There’s a difference between thinking mass immigration doesn’t work and being ‘racist’.

      1. SaltyJustice

        “The Medium is the Message” -Marshall McLuhan

        Pay attention to the video that starts playing at 10:44 and what his overdub is. He starts talking about the future in 10 years time and what will happen to the western countries that are doing immigration. He shows black people in various riots from various parts of the world.

        This is a very old editing technique. If someone says “At this point the villain appears” and they have on-screen a picture of Darth Vader, your brain immediately associates the two. It’s obvious, because what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing are meant to be linked. He deliberately chose to show black people rioting while talking about how the west will be tense, fractured, and divided.

        This means he doesn’t need to explicitly say “Black people/immigrants are the source of the west’s problems”. You may not have noticed it – but your brain did.

        Always be on the lookout for these cheap editing tricks. People who have an agenda but don’t want to push it explicitly will usually use these tricks to cloak it, and their audience will absorb it anyway.

    2. UnhingedBecauseLucid

      1. Good point about the Filipinos (and Brazilians which I didn’t know of). But what is the overall figure here. What’s the percentage. As if a difference in quantity never becomes a difference in kind. As if capacity is never a factor…

      2. A lot of countries export trash to the third world. Where talking about streets, architecture and crime rate here I presume…

      3. There is nothing racist in this video. You’re argument is a contrived knee-jerk reaction to footage to which you wish to read into it the worst of intentions; intentions not supported by the narrative of the video.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      The video near the end of this piece of (mostly) black men overturning vehicles is not from the U.S., and does not depict the protests in either Ferguson, MO or Baltimore. The buildings and vehicles in it suggest it is footage from a European city. Our cities aren’t that well maintained, or that new and sharp looking, in the parts of the country that house our large, native under class. Also, most of the vans on our streets are larger and heavier than the one toppled in this video. It is not a clip of multi-generational Americans rioting in in America.

      The narrator, who I believe is the author of this piece, has a Canadian accent, not a U.S. one. His anti-immigrant animus appears to have developed in a nation where the cops do not get to kill blacks with impunity. One where immigrants are notably better treated than in almost any other western nation.

      Which rather brings into question why you brought up America’s racist policing in comments. Our militarize, heavily armed police have their greatest negative impact on our native-born populations; they affect immigrant communities here, but only to about the same degree that they impact the native-born under class (and you can view the stats on our prison populations to confirm that). Did you base bringing this into comments on the assumption that some white guy speaking English and publishing an anti-immigrant piece is and absolutely must be from the U.S.?

      Because that is what it looks like. A knee jerk expectation that some possibly racist, clearly anti-immigration white narrator just has to be from the U.S. Over the years I’ve encountered very little shortage of quiet, polite racism in either Canadians or Western Europeans (or a few upper middle class Brazilians I’ve worked with). They tend to admit to it in private social settings when speaking to white business class Americans. We are commonly assumed to be receptive to it because…… they all know we just must be. They’ve read about us in all their best papers. Protests to the contrary in these genteel settings are….. very unwelcome. If we aren’t quite the dim thugs they expect us to be, they can become quite distressed.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          This linked video is part of the immediate and well coordinated race-baiting response to Ferguson. A useful link in documenting the rapid, intensely well organized right wing response, which was so well organized and so rapid largely due to the fact that our authoritarians knew they had been provoking an uprising for years now. They were long disappointed by the quiet decency of black communities across the nation, but they had propaganda constructs ready to go at the drop of a tear gas canister.

          It’s too long to watch in its entirety, like most of this self-serving vomitus usually is.

          Did you think linking a video like this one absolves Canadians, Europeans and criollo elites from anywhere else of their quietly expressed, dainty private bigotries? Guess again.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Just so no one else clicks that link: I finished watching it finally. That chunk of YouTube vomit appears to have started out as poutine. It was clearly produced by a Canadian, but that’s only apparent about 7 minutes into it.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Again, see my earlier comment. Hostility to foreigners is a well known Japanese posture. Did you miss that this dates back to the black ships, when the West forced itself upon Japan against its will? Your rant reveals your profound ignorance about Japan.

    5. visitor

      the migrants that have arrived in Germany and various other European states haven’t found work, for the most part, because they’re refugees from the war in Syria

      Well, when the statistics about how few “migrants” in Germany found work (2.8%) were presented in the video was the moment where I really pricked up my ears.


      1) Most “migrants” were actually asylum seekers — i.e. people who had not been hired or who were not looking specifically for work in Germany.

      2) Asylum seekers in Germany are forbidden to look for work during the first 3 months after arrival; then, they must ask for an authorization to work — which may or may not be granted; then, they have to be satisfied with the fact that by law, priority for a job is to be given to nationals, and to people with a normal residence and work permit. They only get a normal work permit when their asylum request is granted — which usually takes 5 to 12 months.

      3) Anyway, most of those refugees do not have suitable qualifications for the German labour market.

      4) If they do have such qualifications, their corresponding diplomas / apprenticeship certificates / driving licenses / etc are not recognized in Germany.

      5) Even if they are, their holders do not speak German.

      6) Even if they do, they do not speak or understand the Germanic dialects (Swabian, Bavarian, Plattdeutsch), which may be essential for highly “customer-intensive” activities in some regions.

      This point about Germany was obviously a sleazy argument mixed up with interesting observations about Japan. Somehow, I felt the video was good when discussing Japan, but put forward questionable points about Western countries. I am biased, since I know vastly more about the latter than the former, of course.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Your summary is inaccurate.

        First, even though most refugees have applied as asylum seekers, that does not mean that they will be granted that status. Only about 60% are. Some are deemed to be economic migrants and are subject to deportation. Second, Germany passed an a law in 2016 specifically designed to facilitate workforce participation of migrants by creating 100,000 jobs for them and waiving the requirement that German and EU citizens be given preference in hiring over migrants. That contracts your claim in #2. It also provides for language training.

        One of the reasons Merkel supported taking refugees from Syria is that Syria has very high educational standards and she believed they would be good immigrants, in the sense that Germany believes it needs immigrants to offset the lack of demographic growth and more highly educated immigrations would be more readily assimilated. However, the failure until very late in the game to address the problem of how to assimilate them, particularly regarding language and interim support, was naive. Merkel was expected to have difficulty winning the elections this year due to the poor handling of the refugees and the resulting knock-on effects. This is how things looked in 2015:

        Latest estimates, so far unconfirmed by the government, are that Germany might expect as many as 1.5 million refugees by the end of the year, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. There are no signs the numbers will let up in the near future, with one government minister warning this week that many women and children can be expected to follow the males who made up the majority of those making the journey first. Merkel’s decision last month to “open the doors”, particularly to Syrian refugees, has attracted growing criticism even within her own party as an estimated 10,000 people continue to arrive every day.

        The drop in immigrants took the heat off Merkel on this issue:

        The number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany last year has dropped by two-thirds to about 280,000. Berlin said the decrease signals that measures to reduce migration are working….

        Some 280,000 migrants arrived in Germany last year, a stark reversal in numbers after the country received nearly 890,000 refugees during the 2015 migration crisis, according to year-end government figures released on Wednesday…

        n the spring of last year, the Balkan route used by migrants to reach Europe was closed and the EU-Turkey migration deal reducing crossings across the Aegean went into effect, significantly reducing the number of new arrivals in Germany.

        But the number of first asylum application applications rose to 745,500 last year, including from those people who arrived in 2015 but did not formally apply for protection until 2016. In 2015, 477,000 asylum applications were received.

        Of those applications, the government made around 700,000 decisions, more than five times more than in 2014. The increase signals German authorities have increased their capacity to process asylum applications after coming under criticism for bureaucratic backlogs in 2015.

        And let us not forget the refugee crisis as well as concerns about impact on cultural norms was an impetus for the Brexit vote. which took place as Germany was only getting its migrant crisis under control. I for one think that the fuss over women wearing burkas is nuts (IMHO it’s no different than seeing Japanese women in traditional attire, or for that matter, monks of various sorts and nuns in public wearing their robes). But at the same time, there are many reports (and I’ve had some both first hand and from credible second hand sources) of Muslim men in French and German cities criticizing women for being what they regard as scantily clad. So the clash of culture issue is real, and Europeans don’t take well to people they regard as guests in their countries trying to impose their norms. Until multiculturalism became a celebrated value in the US, we also expected immigrants to assimilate.

        And regarding educated immigrants taking step down career-wise, maybe a lot of steps down, this is normal. A lot of educated Jews who fled Germany wound up as doormen or in equivalent jobs. It was only the very top strata who had good connections abroad who landed well.

  5. UnhingedBecauseLucid

    OMG Yves ! Have you been singing Lady Gaga’s “I’m on the Edge” song in the shower again this morning ?

    The flak you’re going to take from your cuddle bunny readership and from other blogs for this one … you’re crazy I tell ya’ !
    Completely mad !

    Such a contrarian argument these days, how the bloody hell do you think you can get away with it ? The MSM indoctrination has been thorough, steady and complete.
    You’re giving credence to [some] of the Trump supporters’ grievances !
    How dare you ?
    Has this started with that JM Greer, James Kunstler, C. Martenson, D. Orlov and F. Morris conference you posted here a few months ago; where Greer “went on the edge” and dared to affirm that labor does in fact respond to the supply and demand phenomenon ? (and in the process triggered the safe space security alarm of some cuddle bunny in the audience)

    I still think you’re suicidal; risking it all instead of safely dispensing the usual porridge.
    Keep it up and I’ll really start to suspect you give a shit about the working class for real…

    1. Tony Wright

      No, 260% GDP debt, ageing population, no growth, declining spending…. Nothing to see or concern anyone here…..

      1. Tony Wright

        Oh, and I forgot the two narcissistic spoils brats in Pyongyang and the White House, whose Twitter brawl may or may not escalate to catastrophe in NE Asia…
        And the substantial areas of Japan which are uninhabitable following the Fukushima disaster…
        And the fact that the Bank of Japan owns substantial percentages of shares in the largest Japanese companies, just to prop up their share prices….
        No, nothing to worry about at all.

  6. SaltyJustice

    He was doing great until about the 10 minute mark, at which point he stopped talking about economic issues and instead starting going off on immigration and cultural stuff.

    For those of you who are meeting BlackPigeonSpeaks for the first time, he has a pretty long history of misusing statistics to get angry at immigrants. This is not to say that any one statement in his video is wrong, but more to say that, if there is nuance, then there’s a good chance he missed it.

    He pulls a very nice switcheroo at about 10:20, wherein he says that The West is in a tense and fragmented situation because it has immigrants without jobs and therefore can’t fund the welfare state, creating social tension.
    As we’ve seen from other posts on NC, Japan had a very different attitude towards workers, attempting to make sure they still had jobs during a recession whereas western companies couldn’t wait to boot them. He misses Japan’s history of co-operative companies.

    He misses all of that. People without jobs cause social tensions, sure. Immigrants are not to blame for not having jobs, the *Capitalist system* is. We’re in a tense, fragmented situation because Capitalism and its rich acolytes are gobbling up all the wealth and power, leaving us with a destroyed environment and decaying cities.

    Besides, if we had a situation where we needed a welfare state and had a bunch of unemployed immigrants, couldn’t we just print money to hire them to take care of people? Isn’t that kind of exactly what he points out Japan is doing – printing money to retire its debt without inflation? Isn’t that what MMT points out we absolutely should do?

    I will not take issue with his globalism anger. I share it. The big money types love immigration because it creates new sources of money for them to take. I get that. But BlackPigeonSpeaks has a history of getting his numbers wrong or selectively quoting sources in order to make immigration seem far worse than it is.

    He has the right idea economically but he lets his racist tendencies get in the way of his conclusions. Take everything he says with a grain of salt.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve worked for the Japanese and was the first person hired into the Japanese hierarchy of a very prestigious institution. The Japanese are hostile to foreigners. They make it hard for them to get in and hard on a day to day basis to fit in and live comfortably there. That has kept immigration down. You are shooting the messenger in criticizing the video. He is accurately reflecting the views of Japanese.

      And in case you missed it, the US open immigration policy, contrary to the billing of some of its supporters, is not about being all fuzzy and multicultural. It’s about keeping wages down.

      1. SaltyJustice

        I’m not debating that point, you’re quite right. I know several people who have been in the Japanese culture and they do inform me of the xenophobia.

        I’m just pointing out that BSP’s conclusions are tainted by his own xenophobia. He’s right to be suspicious of the West’s pro-immigration policy. Immigration isn’t the problem (in my opinion), it’s that the structure that keeps wages down is the problem. Since immigration is one of the powers-that-be’s tools, it is right to be critical of that but not lose sight of the fact that there is a structure behind it. Immigration is the symptom, not the disease.

        Also I am basing this on the fact that this is not the first BSP video I’ve seen. In other videos where he is critical of immigration, he cherry-picks statistics, uses dubious logic, quotes far-right think tanks that can’t even be misconstrued as objective, and in a few cases outright makes stuff up. Even if he’s 100% right on the Japanese data (and I haven’t seen anything to refute that he is. I said the video was good up to the 10 minute mark) then I’d still be very very suspicious of his conclusions for that reason. I would say that he found his conclusion (immigration is bad) first and worked backwards to prove it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is an ad hominem attack, which is a logically invalid argument. Ad hominem attacks are a violation of our written site Policies. You need to deal with the video on its own merits. When the Peterson Institute produces sound work (and it does occasionally) we also feature it.

          You actually acknowledge that you can’t refute him as far as his comments on Japan are concerned. You need to focus any argument on what he said here, not what he has said elsewhere.

          1. SaltyJustice

            What I am trying to say (apologies if it’s getting muddled here) is that the “immigration is good for us, so say the pundits” line is a symptom of a deeper disease. When we see a video that talks extensively about immigration in the Japanese context and comes to the conclusion “Japan is great because of xenophobia”, I am cautioning other viewers to ask themselves whether or not that statement is correct. I propose that it is not, that the basic structure of Capitalism is the disease causing the symptom and that a socially homogenous country will be able to deal with the symptoms better but still possess the disease. We must try to cure the disease, not paper over the symptoms.

            1. Patrick Donnelly

              Capitalism is not a disease. Fistional Reserve Banking is! The video says so and we all agree!

              Japan’s capital is clearly increasing, per individual resident, except those affected by Fukushima.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              No, you are distorting his argument in this video a very significant way.

              He was saying that Japan is violating the orthodox economic consensus on how to deal with high debt level (a debt jubilee of sorts by retiring gov’t debt) and lack of population growth due to falling birth rates. It’s been more acute in Japan largely due to its growth rate being lower. Note that the US was expected also to show a falling population in the 2000 census and demographers were stunned when it didn’t. It was due to first and second order effects of immigration (increase in population due to immigrants + Hispanics having higher birth rates).

              His argument is that Japan has gone for higher per capita GDP by rejecting the approach adopted by some advanced economies of relaxing immigration standards to allow more people to come in. Many countries are strict in terms of letting only skill-based migrants in who presumably can land jobs.

              Workers who are not subject to stringent skills-based screening who would in many cases wind up in to do low level service jobs, like care for the elderly. Japan is opting for the greater use of automation rather than importing labor.

              You can call it xenophobia, or you can call it preserving domestic employment and wage levels. Japan as a culture has long recognized that high employment levels are key to social stability. Entrepreneurs are revered for creating jobs, not for creating new products or for getting rich. Similarly, Japan despite regular criticism from the West has preserved an inefficient retail sector (lots of small neighborhood shops) to preserve employment. This is not xenophobia. It is a recognition of the total costs of WalMartization.

              The fact is both the language and Japan’s cultural demands for self control and adherence to strong group norms makes it very hard to assimilate foreigners. By their standards, we are loud, self-important, childishly egotistical, selfish and rude, and talk way too much.

              1. SaltyJustice

                I am taking issue with 30 seconds of a 12 minute video. I agree with everything you said. I agree with most of the things that BPS said.

  7. digi_owl

    There are some elements of this video that is interesting, but some that are downright off the wall. But the problem with all such videos is that it is hard to pick one from the other without giving a second by second time stamp.

  8. Adam Eran

    I’d like to hear from someone more expert than I am about the “jubilee” the video describes. If Japan monetizes its debt, isn’t the money a liability (more precisely, a credit for future tax collections)? Isn’t that “debt” too?

    Look at it this way: If you have a checking account, that’s your asset, but the bank’s liability. Writing a check assigns a portion of the bank’s liability to you to the payee. Currency is simply checks made out to cash in fixed amounts. Central banks’ convention is to carry currency issued on their books as a liability. Exchanging cash for national debt (interest bearing bonds) is roughly like moving money from a checking account (non-interest-bearing) to a savings account. This bids for no goods or services, so can’t cause inflation (bidding for scarce goods, not printing money, is what causes inflation).

    In any case, the Japanese national debt is not diminished by issuing currency. It’s simply transformed from interest-bearing to non-interest-bearing accounts.


    1. Patrick Donnelly

      Good point. He is guilty of many superficialities.

      What he is misdescribing, is that “debt” that is never repaid and does not carry interest, is not like the Private Central Bank debt as it is known in the west, where individuals and corporations attack economies, using debt created by private banking. We have seen corporate deceit being accepted in Japan for decades, except where it was flaunted by non-Japanese.

      Effectively, their entire economy has been nationalised. This happens after war has dragged on and results to date “are not necessarily to their advantage”. In fact, the Japanese people are doing well, if we ignore the Pu problem.

  9. Patrick Donnelly

    His two questions are good!

    His point about homogeneity is also good, as it means welfare is not resented. It exists in two ways:overemployment and prison for pensioners. Prison guarantees the basics and a form of community also, not the CONsumer driven isolation of the non Japanese.

    But the issue with this video is the hidden one. He does not understand the martial traditions of a very homogenous society. To his two questions, I add another:

    Has Japan surrendered the FULL amount of Plutonium, yet? See my remarks from moths ago as to why that is important!

    To lose 4 or 8 reactors is a warning; to lose all of them and oil imports, is likely to be noticed and to provoke perhaps rapidly accelerated economic collapse!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The US bears a great deal of culpability for the strong military/right wing bent in Japanese politics. The US was more heavy-handed in post-war Japan than in Germany, for instance, providing its constitution which does not allow for offensive forces. Japan is still a military protectorate of the US, much more so than Europe under NATO. The US has pushed Japan around in ways that it would never dare do to a Western democracy. I was in Japan during the 1987 crash when the Fed told the Bank of Japan to buy Treasuries because the Treasury market was freezing up. The order was sent quickly to the big Japanese “city banks” who complied. Similarly, the US forced Japan, which had a comparatively primitive banking system that nevertheless served Japan’s needs well and cheaply to de-regulate rapidly in the early-mid 1980s. That deregulation plus the disastrous decision by the Bank of Japan to lower interest rates to increase asset prices (which were expected to create a wealth effect and increase consumption) were the proximate cause of the late 1980s bubble and resulting crash.

      But in Germany, the US purged the Nazis from government. By contrast, in post-WWII Japan, the Socialist party started doing well. The US moved to stymie that and supported right-wingers, including many who had been involved in the government during the war or were related to them, to assume government positions.

      1. JBird4049

        If I you understand right, the left in Japan was pushed out after the war.

        Was this like how the American left was gradually crushed and squeezed out of society including (especially) politics and anything dealing with economics like the unions?

        And would this have increased Japanese cultural conformity, just as it did in American society?

  10. MarkE

    I lived and worked in Japan for five years and found that Japanese “hostility towards foreigners” declined as my capabilities in their language increased. I think most Japanese are agnostic towards foreigners. They don’t know what to do with people who are so out-of-context and difficult to communicate with. They are indeed insular owing to their geography and history, but at various periods instituted structured borrowing from other countries that had something to offer, which worked pretty well for them. Nowadays of course the flow of technical and cultural ideas is highly fluid.

    As for the labor force, their problem for a long time was finding enough work for their population, which is still quite large relative to inhabitable or productive land (“Nihon wa semai kuni, desuyo”). Their restrictive immigration policies are due more to this legacy. With their own labor force now generally well-educated and well-trained, they can and do set up overseas for lower skilled operations, and cheaper land. Macarthur once said that the idea of the Occupation was to make Japan the “Switzerland of Asia”. In some ways, it worked.

    If the Japanese ever need a large new source of labor they don’t need migrants. They can provide their own women with better career opportunities and teach robots to serve tea. Or AI’s to do more of the routine clerical work. They can also keep raising their retirement age as life expectancies increase, and stop wasting some of their most experienced and productive labor. The mandatory retirement age used to be 55, mainly to provide headroom for large ranks of incoming youngsters. As those ranks dwindle, labor practices need to change. The retirement age is now 60, plus a bit in places, and could easily go past 70. The trick will be to reconcile an older labor force with seniority wage expectations, but that should not be an insurmountable problem. Reconciling their labor and business practices with the internet may be harder for them. They still spend a lot of time cultivating personal relationships as part of business, in an age when people get to know each other over the net, with occasional meet-ups in Kansas City.

    The Japanese do what they do for their own good reasons. Racism or hostility toward foreigners usually has little to do with things, which is why I thought an otherwise informative video was marred by the gratuitous bits at the end.

  11. Wukchumni

    “The stories have become all too familiar in Japan, though people often do their best to ignore them. An elderly or middle-aged person, usually a man, is found dead, at home in his apartment, frequently right in his bed. It has been days, weeks, or even months since he has had contact with another human being. Often the discovery is made by a landlord frustrated at not receiving a rent payment or a neighbor who notices an unpleasant smell. The deceased has almost no connections with the world around him: no job, no relationships with neighbors, no spouse or children who care to be in contact. He has little desire to take care of his home, his relationships, his health. “The majority of lonely deaths are people who are kind of messy,” Taichi Yoshida, who runs a moving company that often cleans out apartments where people are discovered long after they die, told Time magazine. “It’s the person who, when they take something out, they don’t put it back; when something breaks, they don’t fix it; when a relationship falls apart, they don’t repair it.”

    “These lonely deaths are called kodokushi. Each one passes without much notice, but the phenomenon is frequent enough to be widely known. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported there were 3,700 “unaccompanied deaths” in Japan in 2013, but some researchers estimate that because of significant under-counting, the true figure is closer to 30,000. In any case, the frequency of kodokushi has been on the rise since they emerged in the 1980s.”

    A 57 year old man I knew died this very same sort of lonely death about 4 months ago here in California, they found him a few days after he’d passed away, and only because the rent was due.

  12. RBHoughton

    Japan has benefitted disproportionately from the opening of China to international trade and industry. The precedent cause of WWII in the Pacific was Japan’s plan to occupy China and use those people and resources in a bid for world hegemony. Since 1980s Japan has got by agreement what it sought to seize by force. Its production in China is the hidden part of its national economy that this chap does not mention. It solves the problems he mentions.

    This video seems to be a North American production. Japan’s experience in USA was frightful and they would not risk that again but they are thick on the ground in South East Asia and Australia, the old stomping grounds of the co-prosperity sphere. It is quite clear they are not copying the western lead in many ways and that irritates our political class which wants us all in the same boat when things go wrong. Copying is not just in monopoly trades like banking and insurance – its alive throughout western economy. If one goes down we all do. Japan is somewhat remote from that.

    About a year ago we had brief discussion on NC of Richard Werner’s findings from long examination of Japanese economic history as reported in his book “Princes of the Yen.” We know how the BoJ operated outside the knowledge of the political classes to recover from the war, exclude foreign investment and become the economic powerhouse it is today. This author notes that BoJ has bought up national debt as Werner told us years ago. Its simply lost in a dusty account as though it did not exist. The same procedure was copied by Korea and Indonesia according to Werner with equally impressive results.

    I wonder just how far Japanese reliance on offshore manufacturing has been understood by the horrible people who seized the country after MacArthur. From the present re-armament policy, not very far, it seems.

  13. Bob Jones

    My my, I did not think when I woke this morning that I would see Black Pidgeon on NC. It seems my hoped-for strategic alliance between the (actual) alt-left and the (non-crazytown) alt-right might be closer than I thought.

  14. Rates

    Racism or not, yours truly recently went to the Japanese embassy for a tourist visa and was in and out in 15 mins.

    Murican embassy? Forget about it. You need to be “interviewed” and deemed worthy.

    A friend of mine who’s on H1B complained that the American government is so broke, they are no longer giving out H1B visas for more than one year i.e. every year you go out of America, you are forced to go home to the home country and apply for a new visa. 190 dollar (visa fee) times xxxx and you are still in the hole.

    1. JBird4049

      Yes, the money needed for actually running them government cut, its back office, but you don’t know that because the checks and the routine paperwork keeps coming unless you need someone to deal with something even slightly unusual. When that happens it’s a lot of time wasted waiting on the phone.

      1. Rates

        I am not sure I follow your point. It used to be H1B visas are given out for 2 or 3 years. And this was after 09/11. I was on H1B that ended 2009. Over that period I only had to go to the embassy 2 times over a 6 years period.

        You know what’s worse? Every year you fill out a new application. So you have to refill pretty much the same things again and again including where you’ve traveled the last 10 years. It’s crazy. Why can’t you just update your old application or clone it as a start.

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