April 16, 2006


Revival in Japan Brings Widening of Economic Gap (NORIMITSU ONISHI, 4/16/06, NY Times)

Japan's economy, after more than a decade of fitful starts, is once again growing smartly. Instead of rejoicing, however, Japan is engaged in a nationwide bout of hand-wringing over increasing signs that the new economy is destroying one of the nation's most cherished accomplishments: egalitarianism.

Today, in a country whose view of itself was once captured in the slogan, "100 million, all-middle class society," catchphrases harshly sort people into "winners" and "losers," and describe Japan as a "society of widening disparities." Major daily newspapers are running series on the growing gap between rich and poor, with such titles as "Divided Japan" and "Light and Darkness."

The moment of reckoning has come as the man given credit for the economic revival, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, prepares to retire in September after more than five years in office. Mr. Koizumi's Reaganesque policies of deregulation, privatization, spending cuts and tax breaks for the rich helped lift the national economy, but at a social cost that Japan's more 127 million residents are just beginning to grasp.

The funniest thing is that they don't even realize they're parodying themselves. Of course when their goal was egalitarianism their economy was declining and now that their goal is growth the freedom required brings with it disparity. Such is the choice life offers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2006 8:46 AM

This is typical French-esque bankrupt thy neighbor mentality.

God said to a peasant: I'll grant you anything you wish for. But whatever you get, your neighbor will get twice as much.

Peasant: Lord, please blind one of my eyes.

Posted by: ic at April 16, 2006 2:42 PM