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What the hell happened to Japan?

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What the hell happened to Japan?

Old 05-23-13, 02:30 PM
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What the hell happened to Japan?

I lived in Japan as a kid and have had a lifelong love of the country and its culture. But, sadly this is a country that lost its mojo.

When I was a kid, Japan Inc. was an unstoppable force that was going to buy us all. Japanese culture was seen as far more sophisticated and progressive than us rude and crude Americans. Look at movies like "Black Rain", "Rising Sun" or "Gung Ho" for the general sentiment of the time: we were being left behind in every way by our betters. Business schools studied zaibatsus and Japanese production techniques as examples of infinitely superior and sophisticated management techniques that we could only dream of copying (everyone was talking about "muda"). All the coolest stuff was coming out of Japan from Sony, Panasonic and smaller, hyper-cool companies like Nakamichi. Japanese video games dominated, anime was bubbling under. The edgiest sci-fi of Neuromancer and Blade Runner predicted a Japanese-dominated future. Cool kids had T-shirts with random kanji characters. Magazine covers moaned about American decline as Mitsubishi purchased Rockefeller Center and most of Hawaii. Japanese cars were selling like hotcakes and looked like they were from the future compared to the American Cutlass Cieras and K-car offerings of the day. The Walkman was the symbol of the time.

30 years later, Japan is seemingly still stuck in the glory days if the late eighties. The economy has been a zombie for thirty plus years. Japan still hasn't fully embraced the internet and the transformative nature of the digital economy. Japanese electronics are irrelevant commodities in the day of Google and the iPhone. J-Pop, anime and manga have been stuck in a ridiculously repetitious rut for decades. Most Japanese video games don't sell outside of Japan. Japanese culture is increasingly less cutting edge and provocative and more offputtingly bizarre and insular. Right wing nationalism and reflexive racism have started to reassert themselves in Japan. Japanese cellphones are weird little contraptions that don't sell anywhere outside of Japan. The government changes hand every six months through an endless stream of faceless, ineffectual 80 year old bureaucrats. Even the catastrophic mess that is the American auto industry seems to have largely caught up to Japan Inc., something of a miracle. China has easily surpassed Japan as the dominant Asian economy.

What happened? What shook Japanese confidence? How did Japan lose its edge? Is there something in the Japanese culture that captured the zeitgeist of a particular time period that has now passed, never to return? How could a country that was the innovation and technology leader of the time become such a backwater? How will it shake itself out of this deep, deep funk?

Last edited by Hiro11; 05-23-13 at 02:38 PM.
Old 05-23-13, 02:33 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Their economic policy and/or Godzilla.
Old 05-23-13, 02:35 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

The huge economic rise of Japan in the '70s and '80s was based on a cheap currency and highly-leveraged, enormously overvalued land prices. When a square inch of Tokyo property stopped being viewed as worth $1000, their financial system crumbled and we bought back many of their purchases much cheaper than they had paid for them.

China's rise probably hasn't been much help in Japan recovering.

Edit to add: And yes, Godzilla.
Old 05-23-13, 02:37 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

People started realizing that anime actually really sucks.
Old 05-23-13, 02:39 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

People stopped buying Walkmans.
Old 05-23-13, 02:42 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Not enough Mr. Sparkle sales.

Old 05-23-13, 02:51 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

A drop in Bukake video sales.
Old 05-23-13, 02:52 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
People started realizing that anime actually really sucks.


I blame Bear Godzilla.
Old 05-23-13, 02:54 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
People started realizing that anime actually really sucks.
And this.
Old 05-23-13, 02:59 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Obama?
Old 05-23-13, 03:09 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by Meglos View Post
Obama?
Old 05-23-13, 03:11 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by Meglos View Post
Obama?
That's the answer to the thread we'll have in 10 years titled "What the hell happened to the United States?"
Old 05-23-13, 03:13 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Unfortunately everyone else has caught up to Japan in terms of technology and innovation. That's what happens when you get complacent and think that since you are better than everyone else that your stuff will always be the best.

And Godzilla....
Old 05-23-13, 03:14 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

They lost the war. I just asked grandpa.
Old 05-23-13, 03:16 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Japan has produced some great baseball players.
Old 05-23-13, 03:17 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Blame everything on white-guys!

http://www.cracked.com/article_19098...hite-guys.html
Old 05-23-13, 03:24 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Tentacle sex.
Old 05-23-13, 03:25 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Everything comes and goes in waves. Japan got complacent, they let the US (and thus China and Taiwan) and South Korea catch up and got passed.
Old 05-23-13, 03:26 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
Japan has produced some great baseball players.
Tom Selleck was NOT Japanese.
Old 05-23-13, 03:37 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by EddieMoney View Post
Tom Selleck was NOT Japanese.
I think he's turning japanese.
Old 05-23-13, 04:35 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Old 05-23-13, 04:42 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by wishbone View Post


I blame Bear Godzilla.
That was Korean animation studio!

... I blame Tom Cruise.
Old 05-23-13, 04:46 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

You can also blame organized crime. Much like in the old Soviet Block, you can't separate organized crime and business anymore; they are pretty much the same thing.
Old 05-23-13, 04:53 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

All the coolest stuff was coming out of Japan from Sony, Panasonic and smaller, hyper-cool companies like Nakamichi.
One thing to remember is that these companies didn't invent anything, they just made it better and smaller. Some Japanese companies do still make the best stuff; Honda and Toyota still make near flawless cars.

One thing that happened is that people (in the US) began to realize that doing things the "Japanese way" wasn't actually an improvement. I remember there was a big deal made about how Japanese run their schools with the kids arriving early and cleaning the campus and classrooms themselves to develop school pride and foster group solidarity. At first blush it sounded brilliant but when subjected to evaluation it turned out that there was no appreciable increase in test scores between American and Japanese schools.

Last edited by Mabuse; 05-23-13 at 05:06 PM.
Old 05-23-13, 05:36 PM
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Re: What the hell happened to Japan?

Originally Posted by JumpCutz View Post
I think he's turning japanese.
I really think so.

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