However, every time I go back to Japan over the course of the last decade or so, I saw that Japanese life was not as bad as reported in the United States. Ironically, life in Japan in the 90's or 2000's was better and more secure than the current quality of life in the United States.
Somehow, the Japanese successfully shielded themselves while appearing to be badly battered. This is not due to the careful maneuvering of the economy by skillful politicians, because Japanese politicians have played musical chairs with the Prime Minister job since 2007. In Japan, the people who are planning and executing the direction of Japan are bureaucrats, regardless of who is Prime Minister or which political party has seized the majority.
Japanese bureaucrats are not replaced even if the ruling political party changes. They know everything about the statutes and legislation, because they are the ones who actually write that legislation. The politicians may be replaced but the bureaucrats used by those politicians are not.
So far, the existence of stable bureaucrats has contributed to the stability of Japan, even though the bureaucrats are corrupt. The Japanese learned during the last 60 years without being taught, "You don't need to worry about politics, because it takes care of itself. Just keep yourself busy in your daily lives, TV, games, fashion or whatever interests you." I strongly sense that implied message every time I visit Japan.
Japan is talking about new elections again, but people know in their hearts that elections won't really change anything. No matter who becomes Prime Minister, or which political party takes the majority.
This gang of bureaucrats may be a little more challenged in recent years. Every single recent Prime Minister swore that they would end the bureaucratic rules, even though it has never happened. And no one believes it would happen in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Japanese people are getting more and more cynical and have stopped thinking about something they can't effectively change.