Posts Tagged ‘Antony Painter’

The Sunday Review: Japan

06/11/2011, 01:57:32 PM

by Anthony Painter

Japan has a big society and blue Labourish solidarity. At the end of the 1980s and early 1990s it was seen as a competitor global economy to the US. Its ability to eschew individualism and embrace collectivism in pursuit of the long-term common good exemplified everything the Anglo-Saxon west wasn’t. This all went pop when its asset bubble burst and we haven’t heard much from it since – other than as a warning of what can go wrong.

Then, earlier this year, its east coast was decimated by a tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear reactor melted down as a consequence. Seemingly in a wave of sympathy, it was awarded the Guardian‘s long-haul tourist destination poll first place, with Tokyo taking top city spot. Germany, having weathered the financial storm better than most other major economies, now gets the most attention as an alternative social and economic model.

Japan has endured two decades of low growth as a consequence of a financial crisis which continued to have after-shocks throughout the 1990s and 2000s. But it has largely managed to adjust somehow – despite a rapidly ageing society, which in part contributes to ongoing low growth.

If the shorthand for conservative Labourism is “flag, faith and family”, then Japan’s motto can be summed up as “flag, firm, and family”. Its history can be summarised as a quest to maintain national independence.

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