Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rising prices and a soon to come tax increase in Japan: A layman's rant

Sorry this entry is very out of character and will probably go over many of my reader's heads; but I needed to get it off my chest and maybe shed some light into what Japan life really can be like from a lower middle class, tax, healthcare, and pension paying resident of Japan.

You know what grinds my gears? Nearly every 6 months or so all Japanese news outlets announce in unison how certain goods will have their prices go up for god knows why. It's like friggn' clockwork, they show a lot of footage of said price raised products and maybe cut to some brain dead zombies on the street that will hum and haw about how it's regrettable. You know what? Screw that jazz. How about some real investigative reporting and tell the public who is really fing you over and why?

It really bothers me how complacent people here are about life changing crap like this. For example tofu, milk, and sesame oil are getting a 10-20 percent price increase. F-me... If milk goes up nearly everything I eat will be affected in some way. Also sesame oil is in nearly everything here. I'm sure a lot of restaurant operators are pleased with this one. It's not like it's rocket science to grow soy beans or raise dairy cows... Of yeah I forgot, this is Japan. Everything is artificially inflated in price!

There goes even more of my wages into the untouchable corporate Japan mafia.
Another thing that miffed me recently is the final reveal of the tax rate hike to 8% this coming April. I pretty much knew it was coming as the previous PM of Japan, Noda, crucified his own party to lay the groundwork for the tax hike proposals. This wasn't some hard decision, this was known well in advance.

Before I go further into my rant I just want to say I understand the need to do something about the paying down the huge amount of debt Japan has but the timing couldn't be any worse... I just see any increase in tax revenues being reabsorbed into pork barrel projects and graft. This is going to hurt the average middle and lower class people and the ones with money will be even more frugal than ever, especially the senior class. Fix the way the government works (hemorrhages funds) then raise the tax if necessary once there's been a long enough period of real sustained growth in the markets, not a few months of good single decimal point increases due to a catchphrase. 8% probably won't even put a dent into the ever expanding debt, it's a silly gesture to the rest of the world that Japan is playing the money game. What's the point really?

OK, back to the rant... Part of the reason a lot of prices are going up this fall is due to retailers and manufacturers getting in on the fun to pass the worst of the tax increase onto the end buyer. I can understand them wanting to protect their bottom line but I'll be dammed if I shed a yen or a single tear for them. So basically, the guys on the bottom will get hit twice by the sales tax raise. Oh, but the butt thumping doesn't end there, apparently Abe is giving 5 trillion Japanese yen or so back in tax relief to corporations. Probably ones closest to construction and anyone that lines his and his friend's pockets.

This tax increase will be a double blow to the common folk as it raises prices and takes an additional 3 on top of that. I wonder how much longer the myth of Abenomics will survive once the tax rolls in. For now I expect the news to focus on how well big price items are selling this winter due to the tax evasion rush. I also expect an equally large lull in the markets as corporations bitch about lower sales numbers and earnings. They have the government to thank for the artificial spike in sales. I kind of wish TPP gets approved for Japan so Japanese corporations can take some up their own greedy asses for once and experience real price competition for a change. That goes double for JA. Fuck your 250 yen tiny heads of lettuce and overpriced processesed cheeses.


  1. Hey Scott, found your blog trying to see if there was Monster in Japan... I'm following my wife out there who started as an ALT in august. It's be nice reading your experiences and seeing someone who toughed it out for so long over there. Just know that inflation and rising taxes are worldwide. I'm about tired of the crap we're dealing with in the US at the moment. Ready for a scenery change myself.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting. I wish you the best of luck with your wife in Japan. Just keep this in mind; ALT work is temporary and should be treated as such. Start planning a return plan as soon as possible. Trust me, if you get too comfortable with this gig it could make returning to the US very difficult both motivationally and financially depending on if she's working for a headhunting agency or directly with a board of education like myself.

    Other than that it's a fun and rewarding job if you can set your feelings aside and roll with the punches. :) I hope you continue to enjoy the blog and find it useful.

    BTW: You can find red bull and monster at nearly any convenience store now for 200 yen a can. It's a nice treat every once in a while still