Global Opportunities Beyond the Radar

Forget China: Why Japan Is Back

Japan Japanese Torii Gate

Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash = Japan Japanese Torii Gate


Quantum Wealth Summary




Just think back to the 1980s.

Do you remember being afraid of an Economic Pearl Harbor?

Do you remember being afraid of the Japs?

Do you remember them arriving in their crisp business suits and stern samurai manner, expanding their corporate power?

Well, it may be hard to believe it now, but back then, everyone believed that Japan’s economy was an unstoppable force. The country had a cunning strategy. They used trade barriers to shield their domestic industries from foreign competition, even as they boosted their exports:

Soon enough, an economic imbalance emerged. Japan enjoyed a trade surplus, while the United States suffered from a trade deficit:


Source: Penguin Books


Japan’s ascendency not only had profound consequences for America — but the world at large:


Source: Vaulted


Of course, Japan’s rock-star status couldn’t last. By 1991, its economy had reached its peak. Then it imploded with surprising quickness:

The consequences for Japanese society have been tragic. Here’s an excerpt from Insider:

“Japan’s economy fell into stagnation which has lasted three decades, so the millennial generation has never experienced very good economic situations,” Takahide Kiuchi, an executive economist at the Nomura Research Institute, told Insider.


“These conditions made them more cautious in terms of spending and conservative in terms of working style,” he added.


It didn’t stop at the Lost Decade. Japanese millennials spent their entire lifetimes witnessing disaster after disaster — including the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011.


Takeshita said that the successive disasters and the economic havoc the events wrought shaped Japanese millennials and their worldview. He added that this made them “more realistic than the generation before them,” who reveled in the excess of the country’s economic boom.

There’s no hiding it. This has been a bitter experience for Japan. The past three decades have been tough. However, in 2023, it is possible that the country could be turning a corner? Could there be light at the end of the tunnel?

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