Hello, I am Pooh-san.
This time, I will be writing about the theme of “Japan’s Prices and Wages, and Perspectives for an Uncertain Future.”
In living life in Japan, there are many pessimistic views about the future of Japanese society.
Many people may be worried and wonder, “Is this going to be alright?”
I myself have also had concerns, so I have taken the time to think about this issue once again.
In this article, I would like to discuss the economic situation in Japan and the changing nature of work, while addressing the same concerns that you may have.
Furthermore, I will also share my thoughts on how we should live from now on.
For those who are interested, I hope you will read the entire article and consider it as a guide for your own thoughts and actions regarding the issues of rising prices and wages.
The Current State of Prices in Japan
Actually, over the past 30 years, prices in Japan have hardly fluctuated.
Even I felt this a few years ago when I returned to Japan from overseas. I found that prices in Japan were relatively low.
In Japan, you can enjoy various goods and services at affordable prices.
For example, when it comes to dining out, you can have a satisfying meal with just a thousand yen, whether it’s a beef bowl, ramen, soba, or set meal.
As for clothing, you can purchase affordable items at places like Uniqlo and GU.
Even with smartphone expenses, if you use a low-cost SIM or a plan from a major carrier, you can manage with less than 3,000 yen per month.
Public insurance is also comprehensive, and medical expenses are only 30% of the total cost.
However, while prices in Japan are relatively low, one significant characteristic is that you can obtain high-quality services and products.
Even without much financial flexibility, you can lead a satisfying life, which is also one of the charms of Japan.
What are the issues in Japan?
One of the major problems in Japan is the lack of wage growth.
Wages in Japan are low compared to other advanced countries, and there is little variation in their upward or downward movement.
When wages do not increase, people cannot spend on consumption.
If product sales do not grow, companies are forced to lower prices.
This downward spiral of reducing prices leads to a decrease in corporate profits, ultimately resulting in the inability to raise wages.
This situation is part of the deflationary mechanism, and Japan has been unable to escape deflation for several decades.
If this situation continues, there is a possibility that companies may go bankrupt due to the impact of a recession, and more people may choose to move to other countries in search of higher wages.
In fact, some of my Korean friends have told me that they moved to Japan because of the difficulty in finding employment and low salaries in their own country.
Moreover, before the previous COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing number of tourists visiting Japan was due to the attention given to the low prices and affordability.
Has Japan already become a “cheap country”??
Similar situations may arise in Japan in the future, or perhaps they are already happening.
Next, based on these issues, I have contemplated what I should do personally.
Preparing for a Situation That Requires a Job Change
Currently, changing jobs has become commonplace.
However, it is important to not only pursue “active job changes” for career advancement but also consider “passive job changes” to escape from a company that has gone bankrupt or a difficult situation.
Specifically, it is crucial to accumulate universal skills and experiences that are applicable in any workplace.
In my case, as someone in an accounting role, I believe it is necessary to build knowledge in accounting and taxation.
Additionally, obtaining more advanced qualifications and gaining extensive experience can be advantageous for self-presentation.
By doing so, it becomes essential to become a valuable asset who can thrive in any place.
It is important to develop the ability to excel anywhere.
Considering the Option to Leave Japan
If the anxieties about Japan’s future persist and the uncertain situation continues, it may be necessary to consider leaving Japan.
As someone who has already experienced living abroad, I have no resistance to the idea. However, for those who have not had long-term stays or experiences living overseas, it is important to gradually acclimate themselves to the idea.
When traveling abroad, it could be interesting to choose destinations with the perspective of “where would be a good place to live.”
Visiting friends who live overseas or directly meeting with agents from local talent recruitment agencies to discuss local life, job opportunities, visa requirements, and so on, could be beneficial.
Of course, language acquisition is crucial. Not being able to speak English would limit one’s potential and options. If Japan were to become a less developed country, individuals who can only speak Japanese or only know about Japan would have a narrower range of opportunities.
Once the COVID-19 situation is under control, consider traveling abroad at least once a year to find a country that suits you.
Furthermore, even without going abroad, utilizing online English conversation lessons can be highly recommended for practicing English from the comfort of your own home.
Native Camp（ネイティブキャンプ） offers affordable rates and unlimited lesson sessions, making it an appealing option.
Let’s broaden our horizons instead of assuming that living in Japan is the only option.
Being Able to Earn Income on Your Own
The fact that wages have not been increasing is a significant issue in Japan.
However, if you can earn income through your own efforts without relying solely on a company, Japan can still be a very livable country.
One effective way to achieve this is by utilizing “side jobs” or “side hustles” to earn additional income alongside your main job, providing stable income.
By doing so, you can maintain your lifestyle without being heavily impacted by the decline in wages in Japan.
Living expenses in Japan can be managed depending on your choices and priorities.
Even in our dual-income household, we are able to achieve a comfortable life with around 150,000 yen per person.
By earning additional income through side jobs, you can maintain your standard of living while having surplus funds to invest, use for travel expenses, or enjoy dining at upscale restaurants.
Opportunities for side jobs are abundant, thanks to the widespread use of the internet and smartphones.
It may take time to monetize these ventures, but the possibilities are not zero.
What matters is actively exploring and pursuing means to earn income on a daily basis.
Once you can earn income through side jobs in Japan, it seems like your freedom and possibilities would expand.
Securing Retirement Funds through Investments
Furthermore, Japan is heading towards a super-aged society with a rapidly declining birthrate and an aging population.
With the burden of social insurance premiums, the postponement of pension eligibility age, and the increasing medical expenses, ensuring sufficient funds for a long retirement becomes increasingly challenging.
Relying solely on the government’s welfare system is not enough; individuals need to secure their own retirement funds.
I don’t anticipate an immediate collapse of the existing pension system, but I believe it will become even more difficult to rely solely on the government’s provisions for funding a long retirement.
I expect to see an increase in the number of individuals who find themselves in a situation where they have to work rather than those who actively choose to continue working after retirement.
Recognizing this situation, the government is advocating for individuals to secure retirement funds through “investment.”
The introduction of systems such as “NISA” (Nippon Individual Savings Account) and “iDeCo” (Individual Defined Contribution) is a response to this background.
I understand that many people feel hesitant about investing, but with the use of online securities, you have access to various investment products with low fees, such as index funds, small-sum investments, and investment apps that make the process easier.
Since the potential for asset growth in banks is limited, it is important to steadily accumulate stable investment products that can generate returns of several percentage points per year to prepare for future uncertainties.
To secure retirement assets, it is crucial to utilize existing systems and actively engage in investment.
Since the mechanisms for securing retirement funds already exist, let’s make good use of them.
It is important to make decisions for oneself
From now on, it is crucial to make decisions for oneself.
Values have become more diverse, and with the internet and smartphones, there are fewer and fewer physical limitations in all aspects of life.
Technologies such as AI, autonomous driving, 5G, and blockchain, which already exist, will continue to advance and combine with each other, enabling various possibilities and creating new means and choices.
Traditional values and norms are no longer applicable, I believe.
There is no need to be swayed by television talk shows or gossip magazines, nor should we waste time on other people’s opinions or emotions.
It is important to listen to those who embody what we want to do or our ideals and use their stories as our own judgment criteria to guide our actions.
On the other hand, opinions or advice from people without experience or those confined by conventional wisdom can be disregarded.
Let’s find our own path and act according to our beliefs without being influenced by the people around us.
Let’s follow our own will in making judgments and not pay attention to the voices of people who always deny everything.
Adapting flexibly to change
There are various predictions about the future, but ultimately, we cannot know for certain what will happen in the world.
While future events and changes are unpredictable, it requires a flexible ability to adapt.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes to work styles and the economy.
In Japan, frequent disasters remind us of the need to be prepared for unforeseen events.
Furthermore, with the advancement of technology, the pace of change is said to be accelerating even more.
To cope with change, it is important to constantly incorporate new information.
Gaining insights from sources such as television, the internet, books, social media, YouTube, and online communities, let’s enhance our adaptability.
To respond to future events, it is necessary to continue learning and maintain a flexible mindset and approach.
It’s important to have the flexibility to adapt to any kind of change.
In this discussion, I have shared my thoughts on the theme of “Japan’s prices, wages, and perspectives on an uncertain future.”
When contemplating Japan’s future, it is crucial to emphasize one’s own choices and actions.
While it is admirable to strive for the betterment of our beloved country, in a rapidly changing society, it is necessary to possess a diverse range of options.
Breaking free from past norms and fixed perceptions is essential to expanding one’s own potential.
If Japan were to regress and become a society that only values traditional ideals, it could potentially create difficulties in sustaining our livelihoods by our own hands.
Finding new paths overseas or acquiring skills that enable us to be self-sufficient might be a means to survive and thrive in the future. To achieve this, it is necessary to contemplate what we should do presently and take proactive actions.
The key is to cherish each day and make the most of it.
I will strive to cherish each day.
Thank you for reading this far.