I am an American expatriot living in Tokyo. I started this group because it seemed like the PP community didn't have a place yet to discuss the specific challenges faced by those who don't have the money, assets, or other circumstances necessary to employ the majority of the resilient strategies.
I always wanted to homestead, but my life has taken me pretty far away from that dream. At 31 I am living on a temporary work visa in Japan. I love my new family and friends and I would love to make them my permanent community, but before I can do things like buy farmland and hire young backs to till it for me, I have to clear the obstacles to residency. How does one invest their time and energy into being resilient when they live under the ever present risk of exportation? I don't know, but I'm hoping that finding others who might know will help me work through this.
I'm also single with no family. It's really hard reading a lot of these articles and posts about people preparing with or for their families. My partner lost his job, sold his house and lives out of a truck on the other side of the Pacific. We believe strongly in the messages on this site, but how do we act on them? So many days I feel like it is already too late for us.
Well, that's my story. Anyone else feel like resiliency is forever beyond their means?
Just one question; why Japan? You are living at the epicenter of the failure of our current Keynesian, PhD std., economic/monetary model. You are in a country with precious few natural resources, and a money system about to die. You are in one of the largest, most sprawling and densely populated urban centers in the world – Tokyo. Forbes recently ranked Tokyo the 7th most expensive city in the world to live in.
I understand your attraction to Japan. I have enjoyed business trips there – the Japanese are sincere, incredibly hard working and productive, and they appreciate nature… but they have been hoodwinked by our bankers into massive debt and (impending) monetary destruction more resoundingly than any other nation.
Currency collapse, in turn, means that the cost-of-living on an economic archipelago that imports 100% of its energy and most of its raw materials is bound to rise, causing real wages to fall. In fact, that marks another fraught in-coming data point. In November, real cash wages plunged by 4.3% on a year/year basis, marking the 17th straight monthly decline and the steepest slide since December 2009.
Thus, the Keynesian disaster is complete. Massive BOJ money printing to fund the deficit is eroding real wages, thereby mitigating against tax increases capable of closing the fiscal gap and reducing the financing burden. The mad men at the BOJ are also, and simultaneously, obliterating the domestic saver with ZIRP and warding off international investors with a plunging exchange rate. Consequently, there is no honest way to finance the public deficit, meaning that the printing presses will continue to run red hot.
That this policy amounts to a financial suicide mission is obvious enough. But what is truly scary is that Japan’s policy model has been greenlighted and adopted in one form or another by governments and their central banking branches all around the world.
I relocated to the Japanese countryside to one of the wonderful resilient communities with fantastic infrastructure and a society that is extremely resistant to tragedies and government destruction. This society has had more than 350 years of gun/sword control and has endured at least 7 well characterized currency collapses (actually many more) and does not worship their govt and banks like the Americans seem to do. We have abundant excellent farmland for the mere price of a promise to use it. The major city (Tokyo) was burned to the ground and two other big cities atom bombed into cinders a generation ago and the people spiritually are used to the concept of complete and utter destruction of the government and the banks, and have infinitely more experience with these things than the self-centered, self absorbed Americans do. The health care system is 4 times cheaper and much more efficient and better (it uses competition to lower costs unlike the US, actually despite a single payer and avoids unnecessary operations for example). The population is dropping about as fast as it should for a bright future and the temporary economic imbalance will automatically adjust by simply waiting for it to stabilize. Old people here are much healthier and able to take care of themselves and others than in the US and looking at Japan from American colored glasses is not appropriate. There is so much that others dont understand. My advice to the Japan poster: get the hel! out of Tokyo and find some friends to relate to, in the countryside. Regarding Jim's graph about the bank of Japan. The stupid money and stupid central government come and go and are less important than community spirit and the ability and willingness to solve problems at the community level. Furthermore the biggest problem in the world is too much human population. The number one issues is not whether central banks are printing or not printing . The big problem that causes all the resource limits, environmental destruction etc. that Chris Martenson writes about is too many people. Everything else flows from that. Regarding these latter more important issues, I dont know of a better country to be in for the long run, Regarding energy and food and housing, for that matter, Japan with its shrinking population can definitely be self sufficient. No Oil curse here. It is not appropriate to judge people and countries based on what "financial analysts" say. That is in fact a big part of the problem. I suggest that the way to a better future is NOT to follow life style advice from a "financial analyst" advisor but instead find and develop a resilient local community. Japan is the most experienced resilient local community on the planet and likely will be one of the first countries to plunge into the next paradigm.
Good points about Japan. I agree, it has much going for it. But I wonder if you could expand on your perspective.
Some background. I have lived in Japan for 8 of the last 20 years. Some in Tokyo, some in regional cities. I am fluent in the language and very comfortable living there.
I'd dearly love to put Japan on my list of places to live a sustainable lifestyle. It has many good things going for it: temperate climate, strong cultural legacy (people Know how to live on this land), strong social cohesion, great infrastructur, low crime rate. But there's a few major red flags for me. I wonder if you can share your thoughts.
1) Population. 129 Million people seems too many. Japan is an excellent case study in self-sufficiency. It was "shut-off" from the outside for 250 years: 1603 – 1854. In the mid 19th century, the population was around 60 Million. In the book "Farmers of 40 centuries", King describes the farming practices of Japan. This was farming at it's most efficient: nothing wasted, every square inch of soil actively utilized, multiple crops grown in parallel. Today, 60% of Japan's vegetables come from China. What are your thoughts on the future carrying capacity of a self-sufficient Japan?
2) Bureaucratic Ineptitude. Japan is extraordinarily good at doing things that are pre-planned and well rehearsed. In my experience, what Japan (and particularly those in power) do poorly is leadership under emergency situations. The responses to the Kobe earthquake, Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami, Fukushima Daiichi, numerous other nuclear power incidents (Chiba, Monju), have been slow and ineffective. I have watched the news conferences after these disasters and been scared by the utter leadership vacuum. What is your plan for avoiding this in the next disaster? Is it possible to ignore the official response?
3) Climate change. I have seen climate change in my own short 20 year experiences of Japan. The declining snowfalls, the unreliable rain patterns, the change of fish migration routes. Climate change is undeniable and Japan is delicately balanced to feel large changes. What are your thoughts on these for the future?
Japan is undoubtably better suited to a sustainable future society than many other places. My comment is not doubt your choice of location. Simply, I wonder how you reconcile the above items.
(Who knows, maybe I can put it back on my "potential" list?)
Dlumb, thanks for your thoughts.
1. regarding population, the population is plummeting rapidly. MOST farmland is unused and you can get free use of farmland in return for a good plan to use it. The reason for 60% of vegetables from China (or elsewhere) is merely based on price. Actually all of mine are local and even in the big cities the fresh vegetables seem Japanese: but I notice that ALL peanuts are from China, wheat and soy is imported (this is more an important factor) banannas and apples from Americas and most all kiwi from NZ etc and most fish now comes from all over the world. I have heard that half of all US food is imported in recent years too, again because of price. I understand that only half of calories come from Japan farms (most of which seem to be fallow now) and when I ask young Japanese about this they just shrug and tell me that no problem, the population is dropping so fast, there is no food security problem in the future. I can attest that in the countryside you can definitely do locavore. I am impressed at how the land fertility (humus etc) is much better than it was in old times as you can easily see that on islands that had no good soil in the past have deep rich black soil that constantly receives composted seaweed etc inputs over hundreds of years. Basically there is so much abandoned farmland, 1. the country can quickly become self-sufficient if the price is right and 2. farming should (will I think) become lucrative again if things get bad.
2. regarding the government ineptitude. As you probably realize Japan is not a law based country like the US is and attitude and good faith go a long ways to getting what is needed, regardless of the written rules. I have many examples but do not want to put into a public writing. Overall, I have much more personal freedom in Japan. I am not talking about what clothes I wear but important things such as getting things done in housing and business relations without government regulations in your face. As long as you care about others, and try to honor their feelings, you have much freedom to do things without government avarice. Anyway, it is best NOT to rely on the government. I dont care if the government is inept (we are better off that way) if I dont need it and have nothing for them to tax. I dont expect the government to "save" me and recommend not relying on a central or state government for anything. Local communities handle their problems. This is a long heritage in Japan from the Samurai times, is relevant to your question, and is a main reason why it is acceptable and honorable to keep your mouth shut and not complain to outsiders and give them an opening to interfere with local affairs. I dont know about Tokyo and do not have an opinion about big cities, except to stay out of them except for business.
3. Climate change. Japan has ample rainfall and will get more rain from global warming. that is good. Most everywhere is surrounded by 10 feet or more of concrete sea wall.. that is good. If the oceans rise a meter (50-100 years from now?), I do not expect lost land, but there will be lots of panics during hurricanes, if the hurricane creates a surge during high tide. In my case I studied the history and the worst possible hurricane generated up to a meter of high water in some locations North of me. I am worried about this but not in my lifetime. Anyway, I can show you nice available farmland and houseland well above water but in view of the water if you visit me.
As you likely realize, the people like to speak English, but Americans are presumed lazy. If you are willing to get your hands dirty and build and work your own farm, you would be well accepted here, in my opinion. I do not see a good future for someone who might want to buy a farm (cant do anyway if you dont work itr) and pay others to work it, both economically or socially.