Those turning 20 this year in Japan have known only an economy of falling prices. What damage have two decades of deflation, anaemic wage growth and lower job security done to their ambitions?
With the magnificent Meiji shrine behind them, kimono brocades catching the sun and their coming-of-age ceremony about to begin in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, seven Japanese friends hold an urgent meeting, mobile phones in hand. Thumbs move in a blur as staff urge them to hurry inside.
Rival thrift sites flicker across screens. One of the group shouts in triumph: If they get to the restaurant by 3pm with the right coupons, they will save 1,220 yen (S$15) collectively on the after-party bill.
They agree and dash into the hall.
Everyone can relax now, one of them explains, because money has been saved.
This generation of 20-year-olds celebrating their coming of age across the country is the first to have lived their entire lives with the economy in a broad state of deflation. They think small. They trust only with caution. They see the future as a string of cash-draining emergencies.
This year's celebrants, born in 1995 and 1996, are the first to have spent their entire journey to adulthood in an economy of mostly falling consumer prices.
Their lives have been so infused by the phenomenon that several say deflation - one of the main obstacles to growth through the 2000s - has evolved into a source of low-level apprehension that limits ambition.
source by straitstimes