Global Opportunities Beyond the Radar

Revisiting Japan: A Rebellious Choice?

Japan Japanese Torii Gate

Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash = Japan Japanese Torii Gate


Do you remember the 1980s?

It was a fascinating era, wasn’t it?

This decade was filled with big hair, synth-pop music, and neon colours. The culture was defined by the rise of yuppie consumerism. There was a sense of extravagance. Boldness. Perhaps even excess.

But behind the flashy fashion and rampant materialism, there was a darker side to the ‘80s. You could see it happening in the area of global trade.

At the time, Japan was experiencing an enthusiastic rise in fortune, going from strength to strength — even as America appeared to stumble, gripped by a crisis of self-confidence.


Source: UBS


How did this happen? And why? Well, just take a look at this graph here. It gives you a quick snapshot of the international stock market:

Kazukuni Yamazaki, a former employee at investment bank Nomura Securities, described what the jolly mood in Tokyo felt like:

‘Everyone, including groups of young office ladies, was standing there, checking stock prices and squealing in excitement.


‘It was really crazy that everyone was talking about wanting a golf club membership that cost 500 million yen when none of us was really into golf.’

Indeed, it looked like Japan’s economy was an unstoppable freight train. It was expanding aggressively:

Perhaps in a sign of things to come, a young real-estate tycoon named Donald Trump captured the public imagination in America. He did so by going straight for the jugular. He publicly attacked Japan’s trade policies:

Now, understandably, Trump’s statements hit a raw nerve in the American heartland. The anxiety had reached a feverish level. Many people believe that Japan was on the brink of knocking America off its throne. Seizing the capitalist crown. This was a terrifying thought:

Meanwhile, the American stock market has roared back with renewed strength and vigour. It this surprising? Well, maybe not:

In recent decades, interest in Japanese stocks have faded away. Many investors have made it a point to avoid the Nikkei. Well, who can blame them? It’s a case of once burned, twice shy:


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