Author | Editor: Kuznar, E. (NSI, Inc.)
Two datasets on wealth and status distribution in Japan were analyzed: 2008 World Bank quintile and decile estimates of income, and Japanese income by occupation data from 2015.
Both the income data provided by the World Bank and the occupational data provided by Japan’s federal government show a mildly risk acceptant population. Both datasets indicate that the highest earning incomes and wealthiest Japanese citizens are the most risk acceptant.
Significance for Risk Taking and Stability
Japan has a low level of inequality and high level of stability when compared to most countries, buffering any potential grievances from risk acceptant members of the country. However, its slowing economic growth and warming governmental ties to its regional adversary (i.e., China) leave Japan vulnerable to Chinese influence (Kaneko, 2018; Duchatel, 2018). Japan’s homogenous population and small wealth gap make social fissures in Japan minimal and unlikely to threaten overall state stability (World Atlas, 2019; Koike, 2015).
Implications for US Interests
The United States has a long-standing relationship with Japan built on strong economic and security ties, with a recent emphasis on North Korean denuclearization and confronting Chinese military movement past its sovereign borders (Stokes, 2015). New trade deals that exclude the US, as well as some warming of relations with China and Russia pose a slight threat to US interests, this is especially true with interests surrounding foreign direct investment (Cimino-Isaacs & Williams, 2019). However, Japan’s stability and its overall positive relationship with the US keep the risk level to US interests low.
Implications for China’s Interests
While China’s political and economic interests and opportunities in Japan are growing they are still weak following years of anti-Japanese policies, which include threatening access to valuable Rare Earth minerals that are crucial to Japan’s developed economy (Fisher, 2013). However, Japan is still China’s largest destination of goods in the region (OEC, 2017). China and Japan are beginning to re-establish full political communication, which was something that the two countries have not enjoyed over the last seven years (Duchatel, 2018).
Implications for Russia’s Interests
Japan’s risk acceptant population gives Russia the potential to increase its involvement in the Asian Pacific and warm ties with one the US’ strongest allies (Kireeva, 2018). While progress has been made by Russia to better Russo-Japanese relations, Russia’s ties to China and Japan’s ties to the US remain a significant barrier for furthered Japan-Russian relations (Streltsov, 2016). While Japan’s relations to the US represents a strategic barrier, Russia’s increased economic relationship with Japan corresponds with its overall strategy to avoid economic dependence on its adversaries—specifically in the European Union—by looking toward East Asian markets and lessening its economic vulnerability.