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Opinion
William Pesek

Is Japan Heading From Deflation to Stagflation?

Is Japan getting too much inflation too quickly? Worse, isn't this really the bad kind of price rise, based more on corporate opportunism than economic fundamentals?
Signage displays sale prices as a customer shops at a Seiyu GK supermarket in Tokyo, Japan. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Signage displays sale prices as a customer shops at a Seiyu GK supermarket in Tokyo, Japan. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

April has been a disorienting month for Tokyoites as prices for everything from coffee to T-shirts to DVDs seem to be jumping inexplicably.

We residents of the world's most expensive city expected a slight bump after the government's April 1 move to hike the sales tax by 3 percentage points. What we may be getting instead is a touch of the price gouging that marred the introduction of the euro 15 years ago. This is no cash-register conspiracy theory: Japanese media reports indicate that giant companies from Suntory Beverage and Food Ltd. to beef bowl chain Yoshinoya Holdings Co. are indeed using the new tax levy as an excuse to raise base prices on the sly.