Japan Needs More Than a Devalued Yen

Yen depreciation helps big exporters but won’t do much for the little guy
Namiki hasn't upgraded his machinery since 1989 Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The last time Masao Namiki bought machinery for his business, Emperor Hirohito had just died and Japanese investors were congratulating themselves on snapping up New York’s Rockefeller Center. That was 1989, a year before Japan’s overheated economy began to unravel. The $1 million that Namiki borrowed to buy computerized lathes and drills for his industrial molds company almost bankrupted him when orders from customers including Canon and Panasonic evaporated amid a stock market and real estate crash that erased $15 trillion in wealth.

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