Money is a funny thing in Japan. During the Bubble Economy the Japanese had too much of it. They bought up everything and were seen as the new boogeymen after the Soviets kicked the bucket (Think about the evil Japanese billionaires in movies like Die Hard or Rising Sun) But then the whole house of cards came crashing down.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of money that used to be flowing around we can look at Japanese spending money. In this country three quarters of men get a certain amount of spending money, in the form of a monthly allowance, from their wives. Since 1979 Shinsei Bank has been tracking this amount. In 2011 the allowance was 39,600 Yen or about $US 500 per month. This compares to 1990, a year before the bubble burst, when the allowance was 76,000 Yen (or about US$ 950 in 2012 money). Twice as much money was flowing around the economy keeping restaurants and drinking establishments awash with cash. Since the bubble Japan is still trying to recover, of course the world economic collapse and the 311 radiation inducing earthquake aren’t helping.

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Even in all these economic hard times it’s amazing for me how the Japanese view money and family. In her biography Yakuza Moon Shoko Tendo describes her life which boils down to -slaving away at a variety of shady jobs to support her family as they fall into one crisis after another-. In Japan it seems there’s no question raised in regards to whether supporting someone is a good idea, simply put it’s just; “How much money do you need? Here you go.” Where as in Western Nations people might question throwing money into a black hole, for Shoko Tendo, it was always just handing over whatever she made.

This has created its own little criminal class of people who prey on this culture of give money first, ask questions later. Hundreds of scams in Japan induce people to hand over cash after conmen, confidence-men etc, convince them that their relatives are in trouble.

Already I can see problems in the future, when as part of a Japanese family, I will be expected to hand over thousands of dollars of cash with no questions asked.

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