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Japan's Economy Information Needed for a Novel

ylapointe

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Hello there! I'm hoping some one here would be able to answer some of these questions.

What I'm wondering about is general economy of japan. specifically, the economy of each region in japan.

If i can go into depth I would like to explain further about what kind of information I'm looking for.

So currently I'm writing a novel where many of the world's governments have collapsed completely and much of the world is in anarchy. Japan, with the help of the US, has managed to ride out this collapse however with trade being so sparse, the stock market pretty much non-existent, and the rising crime-rate, japan has enacted the walling-off of the major regions of japan. So instead of one massive government needing to support a massive population of the entire country, each walled-off "Region" can setup its own smaller government which will only have to support the population of its own walled-off region.

So my question is:
"If" something like this were to happen which of japan's current regions would be able to support its self the best and which regions would be too poor to sustain itself? if you don't know, then simple speculation is fine but I would also like to know why you think so.

Also, I don't need to hear about how utterly unrealistic this scenario is or how this would never happen in real life.. i already know all this. however, if you have ideas on how this scenario could be more believable then feel free to offer your thoughts. i dont know how government work thus i dont know how they might react to such disasters if they were to occur. any help is appreciated.

-Yuri
 

Mike Cash

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Even in economic good times, Japan can't feed itself. (About 60% of calories consumed come from imported food).

If the world economy has collapsed and there is no trade, then you're talking about a return to subsistence farming and rampant starvation.

Most of Japan's population is urban. Why would the people least able to feed themselves consent to walling themselves off from the arable land and hastening their own starvation? Who is going to pay for and construct the walls? Who is going to guard/enforce the walls? The struggles of hand-to-mouth existence in subsistence agriculture circumstances don't provide the economic leeway to free people from the demands of calorie production to go off and do anything else.
 

cocoichi

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The thing with novels is that you can create an alternative world, that looks like the current one:

You can incorporate that Japan has a lot of really old people, so they die and you now have 30 million people less to worry about.

You can use the fact that many homes in Japan are vacant, which could be stripped for metal and such things for trade or recycling

You can use that Japan is an island nation, and rely on fish for their diet. If you need other meat in your story, use chicken. They can be kept in large numbers on small amounts of space.You can use feathers as well of course.

You can use the Japanese practice of urban farming ( Agricultural Aftershocks: How Japan is Combatting a Decline in Farming - Modern Farmer )

The country dividing part I leave up to you, because I have no idea how that would work out storywise. I can't see how shikoku would be different from kansai in your story for example.
 

Mike Cash

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It strikes me that, for a nation as resource-poor as Japan, a scenario without trade is one of rapid economic death, regardless of internal partitioning.

Keep in mind that if you're postulating worldwide anarchy and a collapse of international trade then in addition to the already mentioned problem of importing food to make up the deficit of what Japan already can't produce you're also through eliminating (or severely curtailing) petroleum imports exacerbating the agricultural problem by making farm machinery useless (and there is essentially no pool of draft animals these days unless you appropriate the beef and dairy herds, which also rely on imported fodder) and meaning all labor is going to be manual.... essentially people dragging plows. Even if they could produce enough, there is no energy to power the means of distribution. People are going to have to make a whole lot of sailboats if they expect to cover the shortage by fishing.
 
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Glenski

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with trade being so sparse, the stock market pretty much non-existent, and the rising crime-rate, japan has enacted the walling-off of the major regions of japan.
Like Mike said, Japan already depends so much on imports that you're going to have to determine a way that a severely aging population, and one with a negative birth rate at the moment, can support itself. The "government" may be able to govern, but people need food to live.

Japan's crime rate is pretty low. How will you explain it rising?
Were your "walls" actual physical things that acted as barriers, or were there just barbed wire fences patrolled by guards?

So instead of one massive government needing to support a massive population of the entire country, each walled-off "Region" can setup its own smaller government which will only have to support the population of its own walled-off region.
Japan used to be like that in its feudal days. It determined that it needed to combine them to survive. You might want to read up on history to see what actually happened before they were combined.
 

Lothor

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Yuri - interesting idea for a book, and also interesting posts picking holes in your idea! As other people have suggested, food is going to be the limiting factor, so any parts of Japan with large urban areas are going to be doomed.
Check out the last story in David Mitchell's excellent novel 'The Bone Clocks', which is set in 2043 in Ireland and gives a convincing picture of a society gradually disintegrating as the world's problems have intensified (global warming, pandemics, running out of oil). It may give you some ideas.
 

Uncle Frank

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If you can find them , the paperback series "The Survivalist" by Jerry Ahern was a super set of stories about the world after nuk war. Lots of ideas in that series to help you.
 

ylapointe

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hey! thanks for the replies. i forgot to mention that its set in the future... the year 2128. i would like answer some of the questions/concerns some of you brought up.

Who is going to pay for and construct the walls?

I've already thought if this. Robots... its in the future after all

Who is going to guard/enforce the walls?

Again robots

The struggles of hand-to-mouth existence in subsistence agriculture circumstances don't provide the economic leeway to free people from the demands of calorie production to go off and do anything else.

a little suspension of disbelief might be needed here. i'm not looking for anything hyper-realistic here... just somewhat believable... the issue of crops not yielding enough output to sustain a region would seem logical to someone who knows about this kind of thing but for the average reader who knows nothing about agriculture would find this scenario rather believable i think.

You can incorporate that Japan has a lot of really old people, so they die and you now have 30 million people less to worry about.

You can use the fact that many homes in Japan are vacant, which could be stripped for metal and such things for trade or recycling

You can use that Japan is an island nation, and rely on fish for their diet. If you need other meat in your story, use chicken. They can be kept in large numbers on small amounts of space.You can use feathers as well of course.

You can use the Japanese practice of urban farming ( Agricultural Aftershocks: How Japan is Combatting a Decline in Farming - Modern Farmer )

this is interesting.. i like the idea. thank you

Japan's crime rate is pretty low. How will you explain it rising?

Famine.

Were your "walls" actual physical things that acted as barriers, or were there just barbed wire fences patrolled by guards?
that are massive metal and stone walls. however after hearing some of the replies i realized that the amount of materials needed would indeed be unrealistically high. so how about this: wall off major cities of each region rather than the entire region... inside the walls of each city would maintain order and peace but outside would be anarchy and every-man-for-them-selves. kind of like a wasteland.

Japan used to be like that in its feudal days.
the was kind of the idea... the world is kind of supposed to give off an air of regression. like its going back in time while still moving forward.

-Yuri
 

Mike Cash

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You have just both dismissed subsistence agriculture and invoked famine in a single post. We have already obviously put more thought into this than you have.

You seem to have the cities walled to keep people out. The last place on earth I would want to be is in a Japanese city in the sort of world you're talking about. What on earth do the cities have that people in a famine and amidst cessation of trade (and therefore intake and distribution of life's necessities) would be clamoring to get?

How do you envision order and peace being maintained in places which for their survival are daily completely dependent on vast amounts of goods and services from outside? How do you envision the people outside the cities... the ones who have access to all the food and clean water and who can arguably sustain themselves quite nicely if they have to...descending into anarchy and lawlessness? You have it exactly bass-ackwards. Do you imagine "the government" has some magical ability to provide food to city dwellers to keep them docile?

You have stipulated widespread global anarchy and "sparse" trade and propose to write a novel on how it would affect a nation which is extremely vulnerable to any disruption of trade....yet seem to have given no thought to what that would actually entail. I'm assuming this is largely an exercise in amusing yourself rather than a serious effort to produce a marketable novel which would stand up to even a modicum of scrutiny and I'm being more than a little foolish for having taken your idea more seriously than you have yourself.
 

Glenski

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that are massive metal and stone walls. however after hearing some of the replies i realized that the amount of materials needed would indeed be unrealistically high. so how about this: wall off major cities of each region rather than the entire region... inside the walls of each city would maintain order and peace but outside would be anarchy and every-man-for-them-selves. kind of like a wasteland.
You are still talking about a famine-affected nation reacting by erecting massive walls (how high?) made with what raw or refined materials?

Moreover, the response to walls is pretty darned simple: aircraft. Whether they be planes, helicopters, or hot air balloons, they will easily get past a wall. No need to go through or under them (although you also need protection from attacks through the extensive subway systems). Think Return to the Planet of the Apes (original movie series).

As for explaining the rising crime rate with famine, I think you need more to flesh that out. Japan has a very low crime rate now, and not just because people have enough to eat. There is a whole culture out there that I suspect you know nothing about. I suggest you start with looking at the isolationist period and see how the country fared economically. You might get some ideas there. Why not add a major earthquake, especially in Tokyo, since that is expected to happen anyway?

I'm also concerned about how quickly your robots will be built. If a disaster occurs rapidly, it won't seem feasible to construct an army of soldiers/guards as well as construction workers. Why would they have already been built previously? And, despite Japan's hotshot youths and their robots, the extent of robotic devices that you imagine needs to have already been in place, perhaps secretly (?) during a moderately slow period of deterioration, but at what cost (financial and social) in order to justify it over creating robot farmers and irrigation equipment and fishermen?

Lastly, you wrote in your OP:
"currently I'm writing a novel where many of the world's governments have collapsed completely and much of the world is in anarchy. Japan, with the help of the US, has managed to ride out this collapse"
1. What caused the collapse and anarchy?
2. If the U.S. is capable of helping Japan, what is it doing all this time that Japan is bolstering itself?
 

johnnyG

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As you said, it's a novel.

You only have to be internally consistent and believable. You need to appeal to your market, not to a few japanophiles who, even if they all bought your book, would never make you any money.

Sure, pick up a few ideas from here if you want, but feel free to twist and contort them into something unrecognizable, if the end result is a good story.
 

madphysicist

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The thing is, even to someone who knows nothing about Japan, your justifications for why the regions wall themselves off just wouldn't make any sense.

Nowadays a policy of isolationism would be dismissed by economic experts as a terrible idea, and I cannot believe any government would wall itself off in a small region on the basis of economics alone. The LAST thing you want to do in a crisis is be isolated in a small region. Especially in a city state with a high population and few natural resources.

If you're just trying to come up with reasons why someone would build a wall around their country or region, look at the reasons some people want to put up barriers to immigration or trade now, and how that's going... You could come up with something much more realistic and relevant going down that path rather than trying to justify it on purely economic grounds or from the government trying to feed its people.

If in your story you can make a point about how xenophobia trumps (see what I did there) common and economic sense and leads to destruction, if your characters are so afraid of outsiders coming to sponge off their limited resources that they make terrible self-sabotaging decisions, that might actually be an interesting story that I would read.
 
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ylapointe

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The thing is, even to someone who knows nothing about Japan, your justifications for why the regions wall themselves off just wouldn't make any sense.

Nowadays a policy of isolationism would be dismissed by economic experts as a terrible idea, and I cannot believe any government would wall itself off in a small region on the basis of economics alone. The LAST thing you want to do in a crisis is be isolated in a small region. Especially in a city state with a high population and few natural resources.

If you're just trying to come up with reasons why someone would build a wall around their country or region, look at the reasons some people want to put up barriers to immigration or trade now, and how that's going... You could come up with something much more realistic and relevant going down that path rather than trying to justify it on purely economic grounds or from the government trying to feed its people.

If in your story you can make a point about how xenophobia trumps (see what I did there) common and economic sense and leads to destruction, if your characters are so afraid of outsiders coming to sponge off their limited resources that they make terrible self-sabotaging decisions, that might actually be an interesting story that I would read.

well the walling off of cities is to be able to support a smaller population and to maintain order in a smaller area rather then the entire region... they are basically abandoning the people outside the walls. i do indeed need some sort of wall/separation because one of my character thread lines for the story is that he is unhappy with how the people outside are being treated and wants to change it for the better...

so walled off area (or at least something of that sort) is needed.

i dont want to go into too much into the story because much of it is spoiler territory.. but the story itself doesnt have anything to do with the world and how its suffering. i just wanted to somewhat flesh out the world a bit so it can support the story and add some depth... its a character driven story not event driven.. so the whys and hows of the world aren't as important.
 

ylapointe

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Lastly, you wrote in your OP:
"currently I'm writing a novel where many of the world's governments have collapsed completely and much of the world is in anarchy. Japan, with the help of the US, has managed to ride out this collapse"
1. What caused the collapse and anarchy?
2. If the U.S. is capable of helping Japan, what is it doing all this time that Japan is bolstering itself?

1. it was done by an omni-present computer system that gains it's own consciousness. it was a planned thing. however the world does not know this.
2. the story is set in japan so im only focusing on that.
 

madphysicist

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well the walling off of cities is to be able to support a smaller population and to maintain order in a smaller area rather then the entire region... they are basically abandoning the people outside the walls.

I and others have pointed out that these are not believable reasons and that the smaller populations would not be able to sustain themselves any better, in fact they would be worse off by not being able to trade with each other.

its a character driven story not event driven.. so the whys and hows of the world aren't as important.

Then why not just set it in an alternative universe or fantasy world rather than make up this contorted backstory that we have already found so many flaws in? And why set it in Japan, which is poor in natural resources and which you don't seem to know that much about...?

It's all very well to say that the backstory isn't that important but if you're going to include it, even briefly, it WILL distract and annoy your readers if it makes this little sense.
 
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