Over three years ago, when I was still studying and transferring money from my Singapore savings account to finance myself, Japanese yen was at its most expensive ever. I could only get 61 yen to the Singapore dollar (the usual being between 67 to 69). Further, as I resided in what I call the suburbs and what the Japanese call countryside, the only place around that accepts SGD was a bank near the school. Everyone knows how sucky bank rates are, and I only got 56 yen to the dollar.
The Japanese stock market crashed when Japanese yen was at its strongest because nobody wanted to buy anything in the yen anymore. Now that I am working, making money in yen, BOJ’s monetary easing measures decide to take effect plunging the yen to its lowest ever, at almost 80 yen to the dollar during a period of time. This is good for Japan because anything Japanese is now so cheap, Japan’s export market is thriving. Plus, now that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics, many stock market players who had the foresight or maybe sheer luck to snap up real estate and construction bonds and shares, have made it rich big time.
Japan’s debt has surpassed 1200 trillion yen (or around USD$12 trillion) and its interest owed is jumping by the millions every second. Tell me how can a country hope to repay that ever? The good news is, around 1010 trillion yen is national debt. Regardless, a country in this much debt has to do something to boost its economy. So, second-time Prime Minister Abe Shinzo laid out measures to keep the yen low so that people will keep buying Japanese products. On the other hand, Japan’s cheap yen is damaging other country’s exports and while Japan is trying to keep its yen low, the rest of the world is trying to boost its value.
For now, I hope the world wins. Maybe when I decide to live the rest of my life in Japan, I will root for Japan.