Saturday, September 01, 2007


If The American Dream is a politician's catchphrase then The Japanese Miracle is a political economist's equivalent, but like the USA example the truth behind the Japanese illusion is startling. "Japan estimated Tuesday that it has more than 5,000 "net cafe refugees," a new class of working poor who live in all-night lounges and are seen as a sign of a growing rich-poor gap. Internet cafes and "manga" comic cafes are omnipresent in urban Japan, offering couches, computers, soft drinks and comic books to stressed businessmen or commuters who missed their train home. But a government survey found that an estimated 5,400 people have virtually moved in to the 24-hour cafes. It said some 80 percent of Japan's "net cafe refugees" are men and that 52.7 percent said they decided to live in the lounges because they lost their jobs." (Yahoo News, 28 August) RD

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