Break-time habits tell the score

Around 25 years ago, when Japan was enjoying the “bubble economy,” ordinary company workers would eat out for lunch quite often and then have a cup of coffee in a “traditional” coffee shop. Company workers, who were called “corporate warriors” at the time, rarely ate instant noodles from a cup in their office at lunch time, for that was sometimes regarded as miserly behavior.

But after suffering through a long-lasting economic slowdown and deflation, only a few common office workers eat out frequently at lunch these days. Instead, we see a lot of them having a cup of instant noodles at their desks. The number of people who choose to enjoy a leisurely coffee break also has plunged. So, traditional coffee shops seem to be dying out while chain coffee shops — where worn out workers rest for a shorter time — have flourished. It seems that the longer that deflation and economic sluggishness have lasted, the more people have tightened their purse strings.

These days it is said that people’s expectations for Japan’s economy have improved even though there are no tangible signs of that happening yet. I believe that a small amount of optimism for the future will be the focal point of whether we get out of this unprecedented economic slowdown.

shuichi john watanabe

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.