One Japanese film offers a window into the lived experience of the country’s recessionary period.
In 1989 through 1991, the Japanese Stock Exchange fell by 60 percent; gross domestic production followed suit, declining precipitously. From the famed double-digit growth of the 1960s through the mid-1970s, and a steady 4 percent annual rate during the 1980s, economic growth dropped to 1.5 percent by the year 2000 and dropped to negative rates by the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. As Japanese banks and businesses began to fail—for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s—terms of financial instability and failure, like bankruptcy and restructuring, identified in Japan with other countries like the United States and China, began to appear with regularity in the Japanese news. The financial plummet was met with domestic and international disbelief. It’s just a correction, wrote many international economists at the time; the Japanese will figure it out.
The financial downturn of the early 1990s led to a decade-and-a-half–long recession, constricting of the job market for young adults, and restructuring of the lifetime employment system.