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Hello, I’m KEN COACH. Today’s topic is “FIRE in Japan.”In Japan, the term “FIRE” is increasingly trending. As you might already know, “FIRE” stands for “financial independence, retire early.”The trend is a global one, and there are some good reasons for the Japanese youth to admire independence.
For example, many Japanese youths feel that Japanese companies keep outdated business practices such as the so-called “stamp culture.”Stamp, or “Hanko” in Japanese, can be compared to signatures in western companies. So I must admit it IS really important, but practices about Hanko are very outdated. That is, they are hardly ever digitalized in Japan. There are still so many kinds of documents that are not digitalized, which means workers have to go to the office despite the pandemic. What is most striking is that workers go to the office in some cases just because they have to stamp documents.
In addition, there are some other unbelievable practices. As is often said, the Japanese are finicky about manners. And that applies to business practices. Some companies banned using “emoji” on a chat such as Slack because it is “against etiquette.”
This is ridiculous and damages the merits of chatting, such as quick communication and immediate response.
So, many Japanese youths are fond of the idea and dream of “FIRE” to escape from those complications. But many of them overlook an important risk factor about financial independence: inflation.I read a lot of articles about FIRE published in Japan and felt something strange. It was that they rarely talked about inflation. It seems as if they suppose that the low prices in Japan will continue forever. So the argument tends to become “how to cut the cost of living” and sounds shallow.
In one case, I saw one man who says he has accomplished FIRE spends only 2 dollars for a meal to make his living.He says his net worth is just one hundred million yen. He buys every meal at a convenience store such as seven-eleven.Does that mean “financial independence”? What can he do when prices surge?
The global trend in the market is inflation and stagflation caused by skyrocketing energy prices. But japan’s economy has long been suffered from deflation pressures and three lost decades. Consumers have enjoyed dropping prices on one hand, and have been unhappy about low wages on the other. Young Japanese who are crazy about FIRE has not experienced any form of inflation or booming. They have no idea of inflation and unconsciously suppose that stable prices would last forever…
When inflation comes, they will have to pay the price. That’s all for now. Thank you for watching my video.Market Intelligence in Japan by KEN COACH.