Japan economy is gloomy besides the cashless promise

TOKYO -- A majority of major Japanese companies are expecting the economy to remain stagnant, according to a survey of 122 firms by the Mainichi Shimbun compiled on Jan. 3.

Businesses were sent a written survey between mid-November to mid-December 2019. Seventy-six companies, 62% of those participating, said they anticipated economic conditions would remain level. Just 32 respondents, 26%, reported thinking the economy would improve, and 11, or 9%, said it would get worse.

While the government predicts that the economy will see moderate growth, a more cautious outlook is spreading over factors including the increasingly protracted trade war between Washington and Beijing, as well as recession fears in China. There are also concerns Japan's economy will lose momentum following the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Fears were also voiced regarding the effects on the economy from the increase in the sales tax from 8% to 10% in October 2019. One respondent from a dining business pointed out, "The point reward system for cashless purchases will end in June 2020, which could have an effect on consumer trends."

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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