TO BE sure, those in government and the financial industry in Japan watched with bated breath the developments in the US and Europe over the past week or two, as the world moved close to the brink of financial disaster.
But even as the Tokyo stock exchange plummeted last week, in line with other global markets, the global financial turmoil probably did not hit home very hard, at least as far as the man-in-the-street was concerned.
When Tokyo stocks fell last Tuesday, it coincided with the announcement in Stockholm that THREE Japanese (one of them with American nationality) had won this year’s Nobel Prize for physics.
As blogged previously, the Japanese media went to town with the news.
There were even suggestions that perhaps the Nobel Prize announcement could lift up sagging Tokyo stocks, which of course it did not.
However, even though stocks continued to fall on Wednesday, there was no time for most Japanese to feel disheartened.
That same evening, the media went wild again over the announcement that a Japanese was among the three Nobel prize winners for Chemistry this year.
As expected, follow-up news of the Nobel prize winners dominated the media for the next few days.
Pedestrians watch as the Nikkei fell last Friday.
So also did the news of the suicide of Japanese business Kazuyoshi Miura, who hanged himself in detention on Friday shortly after arriving in Los Angeles from Saipan, where he had been detained for seven months.
Miura was to have appeared before an LA judge to be charged with conspiracy to kill his wife in an alleged murder that took place 27 years ago in the city.
The details of this case had interested no one but the Japanese themselves because it was highly sensationalised by the media when it first took place.
In fact, the Japanese media covered Miura all through his detention in Saipan.
In the past week, Japanese television also probably devoted more air time to the death of Japanese mega-star Ken Ogata, than to the financial turmoil.
However, the financial turmoil has no doubt impacted the Japanese economy, mainly through a reduction of exports to the US and other markets, and through its ripple effects.
Fortunately for the Japanese, their mega banks have been insulated from the financial fall-out.
But many Japanese companies can expect a decline in their performance in the coming months. Which means they could be obliged to cut back drastically on recruitment.
Final-year college students who have already been promised jobs when they graduate next spring are probably safe. But for third-year Japanese college students who are starting to look for jobs, luck is not on their side.
Perhaps the main-in-the-street will start worrying about the global economic crisis when job opportunities start to disappear.