In a Japanese market in Sapporo (Hokkaido), May 15.

“My parents went through the bubble of the 1980s and believed the government would make their lives easier. We must save as much as possible and not take the slightest risk. ” High in the period following the bursting of this bubble, in the early 1990s, referred to as the “decade lost ”because characterized by almost zero growth, this young Japanese, contractual in the media sector, who prefers to remain anonymous, testifies to the lack of confidence in the future which affects his generation, worried about his ability to evolve, to see its purchasing power to increase, to benefit from a decent retirement …

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On the verge of leaving his post on September 16, after nearly eight years in power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not, like his predecessors, succeeded in thwarting fears for the future of the Japanese, as the third world economy was sinking into deflation, the fall in prices that began in 1996. While unemployment increased and reached 5.5% (a record for the country) in the heart of the 2000s, the Japanese, especially young people, started to be afraid for their future and have given in to frugality. Since 2000, annual car sales have fallen by almost 20%, foreign travel for 20-30 year olds by 30%.

Deflationary spiral

In this context, inexpensive services and brands, such as Uniqlo or Shimamura in clothing, have multiplied. 100 yen (80 cents) stores have proliferated, and restaurant chains have embarked on a race for the cheapest food. Banking on further price cuts, consumers are pushing back their purchases, fueling this deflationary spiral. A trend accentuated by aging – the elderly spending less and costing society more – and the population contraction that began at the end of the 2000s.

“In ten years, my purchasing power has hardly increased”

Upon his return to power in 2012, Shinzo Abe, and the Governor of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), Haruhiko Kuroda, wanted to get the country out of what they called “The deflationary state of mind”. The government then multiplied the stimulus plans and Mr. Kuroda put on unprecedented monetary easing measures – going as far as fixing a negative key rate. Objective: to create a virtuous cycle of growth fueled by consumption.

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