Of Rice and Retirees
WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.
Last month the NYT offered several interesting articles on Japan’s economic situation, and there are two in particular that I would like to share. The first discusses how consumers are reevaluating their allegiance to Japanese rice in light cheaper options from places abroad like China, America and Australia. This foreign rice which used to be largely shunned is now hard to get a hold of. In addition, one major rice producing region in Japan is Fukushima where last year’s earthquake and tsunami hit. Farmers there are struggling to battle the image that their rice is contaminated by radiation, which was indeed the case for some at harvest time. Even though a safe supply has been secured since then, harmful rumors persist.
The other article talks about how Japan’s currently strong yen is affecting those of the older and younger generations differently. This economic state allows retirees to stretch their pensions further and have their savings last longer. In this way baby boomers are benefiting, but it hurts young people’s long term economic prospects and also helps to create deflation. Recently monthly pension payments were lowered and the government released an economic plan to attempt to address these issues, but both received a largely lukewarm response as not doing enough.
On a lighter note, on Thursday Japan women’s soccer team will be facing the U.S. in a rematch of last summer’s World Cup final which Japan won. My loyalties are divided, but may the best team win!