The Economic Collapse
In 1991, the Japanese bubble economy collapsed. Unsustainable economic growth and rampant speculation eroded the financial structure and security of the previous decade. Due to an increased governmental emphasis on centralization, millions flooded into Tokyo. As land prices skyrocketed to the tens of thousands of dollars per square foot in downtown Tokyo, a euphoric sense of optimism pervaded investors. Low interest rate loans from banks were given out with small chances of being repaid. Many investors borrowed extremely heavily from banks in order to invest billions in the new companies and real estate properties. The Japanese government, concerned about the unsustainable bubble exploding in Japan, made the banks sharply increase their loan rates. As a consequence, the Nikkei stock index crashed, and the bubble essentially burst. There was no money to pay back the banks, who subsequently had to rely on the government to borrow heavily and bail them out. There was no real recovery from this bubble collapse for the following decade, often deemed the “Lost Decade”. The Nikkei stock index continued to steadily fall through the 90s and early 2000s. Trillions of dollars were wiped out when the real estate prices dropped to less than 1% of the pre-bubble prices. This economic collapse brought with it a host of social and cultural changes.
social drain on the economy. The large non-ethnic Japanese population that conflicts with the early nationalism of “ethnic homogeneity” undermines Japanese societies most basic beliefs. All of these types of people are demonized for not participating in the traditional sense of Japanese society. They are accused of not belonging to and perpetuating what made Japan great prior to the bubble. Seen as the reason for the collapse, they offer a view of why the Grand Narrative was lost. By failing to participate in the Japanese societies moral codes, they fail to participate in the “Grand Narrative” of Japan. Incidences such as the Miyazaki child murders, the Kogal girl scandal, and many other highly publicized moral collapses show that the Grand Narrative was seemingly lost.
economic bubble Grand Narrative of hard work and national pride.
1. Do you think the premise of the paper is strong? Can Azuma’s Grand Narrative actually be applied to this economic bubble collapse?
2. Why was it that the neo-nationalist movement was so attractive to young people? Does it seem like people still yearn for some sort of Grand Narrative?
3. Where does this posting fit on the website? Is it a single topic, or more of a synthesis of several topics?
4. At what point does Azuma’s Grand Narrative model stop working? Does it truly capture the nature of Japanese society?
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Brinton, Mary C.. Lost in Transition: Youth, Work, and Instability in Postindustrial Japan. New York City: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Kelly, William, and Merry White. “Students, Slackers, Singles, Seniors, and Strangers: Transforming a Family-Nation.” In Beyond Japan: The Dynamics of East Asian Regionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006. 63-84.
Mitani, Hiroshi. “The History Textbook Issue in Japan and East Asia.” In East Asia’s Haunted Present. Westport: Library of Congress, 2008. 83-93.