Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: 1980s

Episode 293 – What Goes Up, Part 4

This week, it all starts to come crumbling down. Japan is plagued by scandals that destroy public confidence at the system right as some begin to look around and say, “hey, does this all seem a bit unsustainable or is it just me?”

It’s not just them.

Sources

The quoted New York Times article from 1996.

Werner, Richard. Princes of the Yen

Kingston, Jeff. Japan in Transformation, 1945-2010.

Dubro, Alec and David Kaplan. Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld. 

Images

Ezoe Hiromasa, the head of Recruit Corporation, whose illicit money laundering via the stock market touched off the first major 1980s scandal.

Sumita Satoshi, BOJ governor 1984-89. He is often blamed for the bubble, though responsibility is not solely his.

Kanemaru Shin giving an apologetic press conference as the scale of the Sagawa Kyubin scandal becomes clear. Kanemaru would die just a few years later, but the damage to public confidence would linger.

Recruit HQ via Google maps. The company still exists today, and surprisingly has not rebranded.

Land like this is prime target for yakuza jiageya, who would try to convince the home owners to sell so that the home could be bought up and developed.

Episode 292 – What Goes Up, Part 3

The Plaza Accord was supposed to fix the US-Japan relationship. How did that work out?

Sources

A partial translation of The Japan that Can Say No

Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers

Images

The Newsweek cover on the Columbia-Sony acquisition

Helen Bentley smashing a Japanese radio on the steps of Congress.

Episode 291 – What Goes Up, Part 2

This week, we’re going to talk about life in the bubble era by looking at three snapshots of that experience: a movie, a book, and a poem.

Sources

A partial translation of The Japan that Can Say No

Tanikawa’s “A Push of a Button” is available in Modern Japan: A History in Documents, edited by James Huffman

Images

From Tampopo. The junior fellow who shows everyone up is at left; the man at right is kicking him under the table.

From Tampopo. I know this is my foremost concern when I eat spaghetti.

A scene from A Taxing Woman’s Return where the bad guys plot over a literal pile of money.

Sony founder Morita Akio.

Ishihara Shintaro today.

Tanikawa Shuntaro.

Episode 290 – What Goes Up, Part 1

This week, we turn our attention to the 1980s. Japan and the United States find their relationship wracked by increasing tensions over political and economic relations, and turn to the solution of an agreement designed to ease the pressure of Japan’s economic growth. The result? Japan’s infamous Bubble Era!

Sources

Pempel, T.J. Regime Shift

Anchordoguy, Marie. Reprogramming Japan

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

The murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 was symptomatic of the level of tension (both economic and racial) in the US-Japan relationship by the 1980s.

The negotiators of the Plaza Accord. James Baker III (USA) is at center. Takeshita Noboru (Japan) is at right.

Ginza’s Yonchome in 1955.

Ginza Yonchome in the 1980s. You can see the incredible growth in just two decades and change.

Another shot of the Ginza in the 1980s. By the height of the bubble, one square meter of commercial real estate here cost $750,000.24

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