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Cataclysm Coming to Japan


There was a great article in the NYT today discussing Japan's lost decade and societal decline.

While the article relays the basic facts and some anecdotes it fails to delve into why Japan continues to lean forward into a gaping abyss. It is not purely economic - that was just the catalyst. At its root, it was a cultural distaste for change - specifically a compositional change of the population. Had Japan opened its borders and allowed the influx of Asian immigrants to become a part of its economy, the country would not be in such dire straits. Japan is fundamentally a closed society and an open immigration policy runs counter to their very core.

Net migration in Japan is effectively zero while in the US this accounts for materially all of the population growth. Furthermore the immigrant population in the US accounts for a higher fertility rate. Japan maintains an active policy against immigrants particularly from other parts of Asia. The Japanese are intensely distrustful of Chinese, they look down on Southeast Asians and only barely accept Koreans, many of whom have resided there for generations. 

While the recipe for reform is obvious (e.g., adopting English as main language, targeting 1% net migration rate), Japan will likely resist any opening of its restrictive ways. As the elderly dissave to sustain their spending, the nation will eventually need to import savings from abroad. Once this tide turns, Japan will face a reckoning manifested in default, devaluation and outright economic collapse. Is it then surprising that the Japanese elite need to drown their sorrows?

It is sad to see the train wreck happen with no way to stop it.