Economic Reality in Japan

How about some news from the front lines of Japan’s economic slump?

A new, young face recently showed up at one of my favorite restaurants in Sano, where I live. She waited on me a few times and the last time I asked her name and if she was a student. “Yes,” she replied. “I’m 15, a high school student.” That made sense, as I’d seen her only in the evening at the restaurant, never during lunch time.

“What clubs or teams are you on?” I asked.

“None.”

That’s unusual. Most students in Japan can’t find enough hours in the day for their studying and many club and team memberships. “Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because I’m working this job at night. I come here right after school.”

“Are you saving to buy something?”

“No. I’m helping my family.”

Her father lost his factory job and spends his days down at the government employment office, in line with former co-workers. The rest of the family members are doing what they can to help keep the lights on and the water running. For the first time in a long time, I wished the culture would allow me to tip somebody. Instead I told her she was a fine daughter, which made her smile.

That’s how well the recovery is going here.

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