40% of Japanese feel financially uncomfortable: survey

JIJI

Some 40 percent of Japanese aged 20 or over feel they are not well off, while fewer than 10 percent think they are financially comfortable, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry poll showed, pointing to particularly high rates among unemployed men, whose ranks include those aged 80 and older.

Released Wednesday, the survey, conducted last July by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, an affiliate of the ministry, covered around 21,000 people at some 11,000 households nationwide.

Some 30 percent of the respondents said their budgets were rather tight, while around 10 percent said they had a very difficult time making ends meet.

The combined proportion of respondents who said they were rather well off or very well off was less than 10 percent. About half of all respondents said they were leading normal lives.

The proportion of those who said they were not well off was the highest among jobless men in their 40s, at 71.9 percent, followed by jobless men in their 30s, at 66.9 percent. The lowest figure was 22.4 percent for unemployed men aged 80 or over and unemployed women in the same age bracket.

Some 40 percent of the respondents said that their standard of living had worsened somewhat or considerably compared with five years before. Around half of the respondents said it had not changed.

Asked about the influence of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, 17.6 percent of the respondents said their bonds with members of their families and friends had become stronger.

A total of 10.4 percent said their income had dropped after the disaster. The proportion stood at 19.9 percent among men in their late 40s. The survey is conducted every five years.

  • shinjukuboy

    This is why there is deflation in Japan. People do not feel secure enough to buy stuff. It is NOT because people delay buying because they think things will be cheaper in the future, as we constantly hear. Until politicians (all rich) understand this, there will be no sustained inflation.

    • JTCommentor

      You make a good point, although I think both are factors, among others. But the government obviously cherry picks the factors that support their current policies – usually being the one that you have cited.

  • Ron NJ

    The real scary thing is that in twenty to thirty years, people are going to look back on this as the ‘happy time’ before everything collapsed under the weight of the country’s crushing debt. You simply can’t escape 230% of your GDP as debt without either a miracle or ruining absolutely everything, and Japan seems to be all out of miracles.

    • JTCommentor

      I think this is kind of simplistic and alarmist. It is a very high level of debt indeed, but much of it is held by citizens of Japan, who arent about to collapse their country’s balance sheet by caling on the debt. Realistically the level of debt will probably mean that over the long term, if things dont improve enough, broad amount of citizens will feel additional pinch in one way or another. If things go as the current government hopes, then additional inflows (tax, imposts etc) should allow the government to slowly reduce the debt to more sustainable levels. I dont think there is a impending collapse of everything.

    • Rockne O’Bannon

      I can always spot people who are not well grounded in international economics.
      People who espouse the idea that “Japan is broke” are prone to view Japan as an isolated country when it comes to trade, and as an open country when it comes to investment. Haha. Both perspectives are as false as false can be, which leads them to ludicrous conclusions.

      Just ask yourself one question. If Japan were really truly broke, then why would it be trying to reduce the value of the yen? Why would it have to try? 20 years ago it was at 150 to the dollar. Why isn’t it there now? Clearly the “Japan is broke” crowd are missing something. A little more education will clarify things.

  • Rockne O’Bannon

    40%, after recession for more or less 20 years? I am surprised the number is so low. My guess is that it has something to do with child care subsidies, universal healthcare and other socially valuable constructs.
    A similar poll done in the US after their recession after 5 years would be something like 1% I bet, and we all know which 1% that would be right?