See my latest blogspot “Japan and Economics” post on Japan as “normal” in response to the “bond vigilante” claim that high-debt countries are bound to soon see high interest rates [and, typically, high inflation when these same people focus on monetary policy indicators]. Needless to say, anyone who’s actually made investments on the basis of these claims has lost their shirt. Somehow that doesn’t seem to get anyone to rethink their position.
Japan looks more and more ordinary across many dimensions. High growth is long a thing of the past, and with it went the perception that somehow Japanese management was special (and other monocausal explanations for Japan’s once widely touted ascendance). Japanese consumers drive to shopping malls to do their consumption, and their diets and other habits look less and less distinctive (or at least more and more diverse). Theirs is a service economy, where healthcare is the growth sector; if young Japanese have ever set foot on a farm, it was most likely as part of a school outing.
That’s an unexciting story, when phrased this way, but important to convey. My blogspot post focuses on debt; equally important is that Japan’s experience following its bubble looks less and less unique. That’s for later posts.