How Japan has fared in 30 years since the stock market bubble burst

Nostalgia for the good times has been a coping mechanism for the world’s third largest economy

On 29 December 1989, Japan’s Nikkei stock market index hit a high of 38,916, a milestone that proved to be the last hurrah of the country’s asset-inflated bubble economy – a period of ostentatious consumption and overconfidence in the infallibility of Japan, Inc.

What followed was a spectacular fall from the heights of the mid- to late 1980s. The stock market plummeted, losing more than $2tn (£1.5tn) in value by December 1990. In the years that followed, the Japanese surveyed an alien landscape of “restructuring” – code for cost-cutting – deflation and stagnation. When the bubble party ended, its hosts appeared to have no idea how to clean up the mess left by absurdly high share and property prices.

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