Lesson 9: Everyone is actually fucking poor

In many ways despite almost 20 years of no growth, Japan looks like a very vibrant and prosperous country.  City centers such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi are full of activity both during the week and on weekdays.  People still spend on nice dinners, bars, clubs and wear stylish cloths.  Japan Inc. must still be growing strong, right?

 

Absolutely wrong.   This prosperity is in many ways an illusion empowered by debt and unsustainable spending.  According to a Shinsei Bank survey on salaryman spending, the average Salaryman has a monthly allowance or discretionary spending of 39,600 JPY (almost 40o USD).

Wow.  And I have met so many Japanese salarmen and career women who are working at top Japanese companies for 7+ but are still making less than 300,000 JPY (about 3,000 USD) a month.  Some with unpaid overtime.

Think about that; I have actually met full-time college educated salarymen who work for companies in Japan who are making around 250,000 JPY a month while working 40+ hours of overtime a month.  That means an hourly wage of only 1,250 JPY.   This is actually less than a wage a college student can get worker at a bar or izakaya in Tokyo.  Unbelievable.

 

“Security of a full time job at a large company” is still the symbol of status, even though there is no longer any long term security, and the short-term gain is a shitty wage.  It’s amazing how people can still cling to this outdated model, even though all the facts are clear in that the current corporate system of wealth creation in Japan is absolutely broken.

 

 

 

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