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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/20/17

Japan: Utopia or Dystopia?

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Japan has one of the longest working hours on the planet; they can go up to maximum 60 hours per week. Along with this, companies' management are extremely strict and set difficult goals for the employees to achieve. All of this has led to a phenomenon in Japan called "karoshi", which means death from overwork. Such cases were reported rare but recently such incidents are becoming more frequent.

The effect of such hardworking lives have led the adult Japanese also to reduce sexual activities, refusing to get married and refusing to have a child since they are not in both financial and mental condition to take such responsibilities in life. Those who can not work according to the system are fired from their companies easily, as it is easy for the companies to hire and fire employees. The darkest side of this story is, all of this is happening under the country's existing labour law. Those adults who can not cope with this working cycle lead them to again the major social issue in the country, committing suicide.

Economic Crisis

Japan is not only still suffering the effects of the 1990's bubble but is also hit with 2008 financial crisis. Along with it Japan is suffering an internal debt crisis; as of 2015 209% of the GDP was in debt. The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has to also avoid the inflation going to the tricky 4%, which could lead the economy to the ultimate disaster.

Last year the GDP only expanded by 0.5%. The GDP per capita continues to decline; in 2011 the GDP per capita was $46,440 and in 2015 it fell to $32,484. Declining domestic consumption and investment is also troubling the shrinking economy. In 2015 Japan had a trade deficit of 23.1 billion US dollars.


Till now you can now understand the challenges faced by Japan. However, the Japanese government is trying to propose reforms and is committing efforts to pull out Japan from this black hole. This year the National Police Agency (NPA) issued a report that showed number of suicides in Japan had dropped below 25,000 for the first time in 18 years. Unemployment rate has also decreased in the last five years. Recently the prime minister Shinzo Abe has rephrased his economic policy "Abenomics" into "Womenomics". Since the government is campaigning to persuade women to get involve in more jobs, an effort to boost the country's labour force. The government has also recently decided to cut working hours as well.

Such efforts done by the government are good to observe but it is not enough. The government has hardly proposed a mental-health plan to counter issues like suicide and hikikomori. The plans to stop the demographic crisis are not impressive at all. There is also a factor that Japanese public has to stand for their own rights; they can not just leave everything on the government. There has to be a change with in society. Another factor to take into account is that the right-wing forces are also rising as these crises continue. Japan is a strong country and they have proven that with their history. However this time an economic miracle will not save the country; it needs more than that. This time Japan needs a social miracle to restore the country's glory back.

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Muhammad Bilal Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

A 21 year old of student of political science. I run an opinion blog The Political Hawk and also an author at The Global Millennial think tank

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