What is Japan like in the Heisei period?
The "bubble economy" that formed at the end of the Showa period suddenly collapsed in 1991.
Land prices fell, stock prices collapsed and, most notably, banks that had extended financing for real estate during the bubble found themselves with huse amounts of non-collectable loans.
After a few banks went bankrupt, resulting in a great deal of uncertainty among depositors, the government stepped in to protect the banking system with 60 trillion yen.
But the manufacturing sector took the depression head on and was forced to restructure to survive, a string of bankruptcies occurred creating large-scale unemployment.
While the unemployment rate for the United States and the United Kingdom shrunk year bv year, Japan's unemployed increased, and in October 2003 the rate reached around 5.2%.
Due to the anger of the general population with corruption in the Liberal-Democratic Party and a negligent attitude toward government reform, a new coalition party under the New-Japan Party of Hosokawa Morihiro took over, but the Liberal-Democratic Party recovered and returned to power in 1996.
Again under the Liberal-Democratic Party, the economy showed little sign of recovery.
In 2001, with promises that included changing the old ways or the LDP, implementing structural reform, improving the economy, and privatizing public highway corporations and the postal service, a coalition party was formed between the LDP, the New Conservative Party and the New Komeito Party with Koizumi Junichiro as the prime minister.
However, Japan's economy failed to improve, and the move to privatize public highway corporations stumbled.
The calls for a more active government increased, and a November 2003 general election resulted in a significant increase in the number of Diet seats held by the Democratic Party united with the Libeeral Party.
However, the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party both lost seats, and so the opposition coalition was unable to secure enough seats to take power, allowing Koizumi Junichiro to remain prime minister.
But whoever is in power, they will be faced with such lingering challenges as reducing the national debt and rebuilding the pension system.