Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

An industry in the pink

One evening recently, about a dozen stock traders and a couple of reporters including myself met for dinner and drinks at a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district.

It was the second this group had come together, and everyone seemed in a good mood initially, chatting away, drinking beer and sake, as well as enjoying the delicately prepared sashimi.

But things soon turned to the harsh realities outside. It’s no surprise that the world’s second-largest economy and those trading in its financial markets have had a rough ride in the turmoil since the collapse of Lehman Brothers last autumn.

The jobless rate hit a four-year high of 4.8 percent in March and the availability of work sank to a seven-year low. In the securities industry, people have even held pink-slip parties at their former watering holes.