When I look at the Japanese media, I see a lot of comments that especially in 2014 now everything is so much better: The economic situation, the mood of the consumers, we can highly expect a rise in consumption with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the outlook for future sales of the private industry is much brighter. To be honest, this is a topic that interests me very much. Since the last quarter of 2013 I felt and observed that although there are more people going out, filling up the malls or supermarkets, I could not see people really purchasing much. I made the same observation in business, especially when talking with others. The orders just did not seem to come in, plus to make it worse the order volume were lower than the same period last year (which had not been that good either). On one side with the rise of the stock market we can see an upwards trend, but when I look into the reality of the daily life the baskets of the people shopping contain only the necessary daily goods. I might be at the wrong places and I might be missing the bright side. Basically I cannot find people really splurging with money.
For the Japanese employees there is a high hope that one day the steady decrease of salary will turn around and as promised by the Japanese prime minister the salary would rise again. Furthermore in December the winter bonuses were paid and many hoped for a positive surprise. Here again, I don’t know anyone who was lucky. It seems the lucky ones were the ones who did not get the bonus cut in any way. Seeing such a big gap to the Japanese media, I got concerned. I was lucky to find a well researched article (Deflation Watch: New Year’s scorecard) in the Japan Times that basically reflects the same thoughts. We are being told that things are moving towards the bright side, while most of the Japanese population has to live with a much darker reality. While on one side I am happy to see that my senses are not completely wrong, at the same time I am worried about the rising gap between what I am told to see and what I am personally observing.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)