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Tokyo, the most expensive city of the world

TOKYO – After currency swings pushed Zurich to the top of the ranking last year, Tokyo has resumed its place as the world’s most expensive city.

Despite Japanese deflation, a weaker yen and rising prices throughout the world, Tokyo has resumed its position as the world’s most expensive city. Tokyo took over Zurich, which dropped to seventh. A strong local currency powered Sydney in third place and Melbourne in equal fourth place while Singapore rose to sixth.

Asian cities now make up 11 of the world’s 20 most expensive cities in the world. Caracas now makes it in ninth place, making it the most expensive city across the Americas while Vancouver is still he most expensive location in North America at position 21. Los Angeles and New York City tie at 27th as the most expensive U.S. cities.

South Asian locations dominated the cheapest cities to live in.

JMD

 jmdlive@lefuturistedailynews.com

Read More:

https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=Wcol2013

kim-jong-un

Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea

Do not worry,

There will be no attack on us, no attack on China, no attack on Japan, no attack on Russia and no attack on South. Little Kim was only looking to promote his belly and baby face, to look more serious.

This guy is an international joke but in his own country he is now God, the ruler of the world.

JMD

Banana Yoshimoto

Tokyo was unbelievably cold, even though it was March.

It looked as if it might snow. Even inside, my breath was white.

We had hardly been using our heater, and we’d turned off the lights, assuming there would be another power cut. Burning candles wasn’t an option since there could be more earthquakes. We had a small flashlight turned on, and we were wearing our coats, and the house was dark even though it was daytime.

My thoughts returned again and again to all the people who had lost their homes in regions much, much colder than here — though somehow it felt wrong to focus too much on total strangers. It’s always seemed to me that you have to care all you can for the people you really can care for. I feel like each of us has been given a certain, fixed amount of caring. As if each of us has certain connections that just matter more. If you feel that connection, you have to act immediately, without hesitating; if you don’t, you shouldn’t worry.

But the sudden loss of so many lives had left me stunned. I was so shocked my heart settled into an unexpected calm. I found myself praying for the repose of their souls, looking up at the window and the cold scenery outside like someone lying motionless underwater, eying the surface. There was a flowerpot on the windowsill, and in it a small, dazzlingly red rose. Just one, uncannily red, glowing against the background of an unusually clear sky on this day when none of the factories were running.

The air could be heavy with pollen, the rose’s petals could be covered in the yellow dust that blows over from China in the spring or exposed to radiation; when the time came for the flower to bloom, it would bloom. As long as we’re alive, we go on living.

I thought about our dog that had died the month before. Maybe it was fortunate that he was no longer alive because he couldn’t stand earthquakes.

We only die once. Why is it then that there are so many ways of dying, and that we’re made in different ways and feel so many different things?

I hardly shed a tear when our dog died, and yet I couldn’t stop crying when this boy in some movie I saw decided to take his dead dog on a trip, and he came out cradling the body in his arms.

“It’s no good,” the boy said. “He isn’t coming back, he just gets harder.”

He was so totally right.

And I was still alive, and I could feel the warmth of my loved ones.

Late in the afternoon, the people in our neighborhood, who had all been feeling ill at ease, gathered in the dimness of our house to share a meal. We ate sautéed lamb and buttered bread. When I told them I didn’t have any butter because people had bought up all there was in the stores, one of our friends confessed, looking a little abashed, that she had six packs at home. She loved butter, she said. She brought some. Grateful that she had thought to stock up, we used as much as we wanted. The supermarkets had nothing to sell anymore, so I put out some wine, prosciutto, and senbei that I had gotten earlier.

As we ate, it felt sort of like we were all holding hands in the dark.

Ever since that day, I’ve grown a little bit afraid of connecting with the people I love — with my heart, my hands, even my eyes.

It scares me, just a little, to send them off to work or school, to say goodbye and wave, to hug.

But it’s okay: I don’t care if I recover from this. I wouldn’t go back to my old life if I could. I’m happy being the person I am now, having had this experience. Being afraid.

Staring at the rose, I found myself singing a song called “The Rose.”

We’re relaxed now, let’s take a trip . . . we’ll laugh and cry as hard as we can . . .

The lyrics were totally inappropriate, but as I kept singing, I began to feel better, as if a tiny hole had opened in my heart, letting in a breath of freedom. My prayers changed into a song, dispersed through the sky. And that was good enough. Useless enough.

Living our lives so we can have bread with butter again sometime together.

Editor’s note: Banana Yoshimoto wrote this piece in April 2011. The essay was the first to be published on Fukko Shoten: Revival & Survival, launched by novelist Masahiko Shimada with stories, poetry and books to raise money for disaster relief. The following, courtesy of Yoshimoto, her agent Zipango, S.L., and the Staley Agency, was translated by Michael Emmerich for CNN.

Original text:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/10/opinion/yoshimoto-japan-rose/index.html?hpt=wo_t4

“The Lost Decade” - Japan is our future: we'll be lucky if we handle it as well as they have.

Some thirty years ago, we used to talk about Japan in much the same tone as we now do of China. Japan was seen as an unstoppable economic growth machine. For most of us, it was only a matter of time before Japan overtook the United States as the world’s largest economy. Ten years later, the Japanese economic miracle ground to an ignominious halt. Japan was becoming a forgotten country and the country has struggled to show significant growth ever since.

The Japanese asset price bubble [baburu keiki] was an economic bubble in Japan that took place from 1986 to 1991, in which real estate and stock prices were greatly inflated. The bubble’s collapse lasted for more than a decade with stock prices initially bottoming in 2003 and descending even further in 2008.

Back in the 80s, the easily obtainable credit helped create and engorge the real estate bubble. As late as 1997, banks were still making loans that had a low probability of being repaid. By then, Loan Officers and Investment staff had a hard time finding anything to invest in that would return any kind of profit. They would even resort to depositing their block of investment cash, as ordinary deposits, in a competing bank. Correcting the credit problem became even more difficult as the government began to subsidize failing banks and businesses, creating many so-called “zombie businesses”.

In 1989, in Tokyo’s Ginza district, choice properties prices were fetching well over $215,000 US dollars per square meter, this is well over $93,000 per square foot. Suddenly, by 2004, prime “A” property in Tokyo’s financial districts had slumped to less than 1 percent of its peak value, and Tokyo’s residential homes were less than a tenth of their peak. Only in 2007 had property prices begun to rise; however, they began to fall in late 2008 due to the last American financial crisis and its consequences worldwide.

Over the years, in what is now referred as the Japanese “The Lost Decade”, with the combined collapse of the Tokyo stock and real estate markets, tens of trillions of dollars worth were wiped out.

In an attempt to find anything positive in any type of catastrophic events, it is becoming fashionable to argue that they might just prove to be the shock that the world or a country needs to purge itself of the political inertia and economic paralysis into which it has fallen. Well, possibly, but the truth is that, regardless of the disaster’s potential to galvanise change, the world’s future, like Japan’s future before, may already be largely pre-ordained. There is a point where economies simply outgrow their capacity to grow. If there is a lesson to be learned from the Japanese [baburu keiki], it is that Japan, in time merely returns to where it was.

Today, Japan is now in the front line when it comes to the three biggest challenges which, to varying degrees, afflict all of the major advanced modern economies: excessive public debt, the demographic costs of an ageing population, and increasingly acute energy insecurity. What is more, the banking crisis that years ago killed off the Japanese growth story has been replicated across all Western economies, many of which are now threatened with much the same deflationary, low-growth future and this is not altogether looking very good.

As we look back, for all the loss of national self-esteem, the reality is that Japan has coped with the aftermath of its banking crash reasonably well. Output has stagnated, but in per capita terms it remains one of the highest income countries in the world. Furthermore, it has managed to maintain a degree of social cohesion that higher growth economies struggle to replicate. As for today’s economic events, their consequences will be much more widely felt then they were in Japan. Coming on top of a resurgent oil price, they constantly threaten to derail an already all-too-fragile recovery across modern advanced economies.

For years to come, worldwide monetary policies will, remain accommodative at the most for longer than otherwise.

Photo: Junji Kurokawa, AP

I am not the only one to predict it!

Here is an article published by Kyung Lah, CNN
on Monday January 30, 2012

“After 2050, populations will drop as the graying nation’s aging will accelerate and the birthrate will stay low.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
•    A new study predicts Japan’s population will be at about 86.7 million by 2060
•    That’s down dramatically from Japan’s current 128 million people
•    People 65 and up will total nearly 40% of Japan’s population in 2060, the study says

Tokyo (CNN) — Japan’s population will shrink by a staggering 30% by 2060, according to a new estimate by the country’s government. The current population will shrink from the current level of 128 million to 86.74 million, as the graying nation’s aging accelerates and the birthrate continues to stay low.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s research organization released the data on Monday. The group, called the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, provides a 50-year demographic forecast every five years. The institute also projects that people age 65 and older will account for 39.9% of the total population in 2060. In 2010, the elderly accounted for 23% of the population.

The country’s average life expectancy dipped in 2011 after the March earthquake and tsunami, which killed approximately 19,000 people. But the institute expects the upward trend for life expectancy to continue. By 2060, the government projects women will live until 90.93 years and men 84.19 years.

The fertility rate, which is currently at 1.39 per woman, will continue to fall, says the institute. The rate by 2060 is expected to fall to 1.35 in 2060. The country’s population decline would slow if the birth rate rose to 2.07.