In 1979 Ezra Vogel, a Harvard academic, wrote a book entitled “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” in which he portrayed Japan, with its strong economy and cohesive society, as the world’s most dynamic industrial nation. Three decades later, Japan holds lessons of a less encouraging sort. Economists in the stricken West have been poring over the data on the deflation that it has suffered since the bursting of the asset-price bubble in 1990. Yet deflation may be just one symptom of an even bigger problem that, as our special report this week argues, is squeezing the life out of the Japanese economy: ageing. Unless Japan takes dramatic steps to re-energise its shrinking, greying workforce, its economy will suffer.
Other countries face this dismal prospect too. Although Japanese society is growing older faster than anywhere else in the world, plenty of others are shuffling along behind it.
Read the rest of the story: The Japan syndrome.