Sayonara Stories

Mobile phones were starting to become a reality when Kangaeroo left Australia around this time of the year back in 1988, a year when the bicentennial of British colonization was marked.

It was supposed to be a six-week holiday in Japan.

Some 32 years later, that trip effectively hasn’t ended.

Japan was in the news in Australia at the time of departure.

Then Emperor Hirohito was in a critical condition (he would die shortly into the new year).

The Japanese economy was booming and Japan seemed poised to take over leadership of the global business world.

But, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

Like now, the Liberal Democratic Party governed Japan and it was as rotten to the core as it has always been.

Kiichi Miyazawa had just resigned as Finance Minister after being embroiled in the Recruit Scandal, a case that would rock Japanese politics with dozens of politicians greedily accepting bribes for stocks in the then-skyrocketing stock market.

There was no consumption tax, but a 3% levy on all goods and services was due to be implemented from the following April and 1 yen coins were being produced to meet the expect demand the tax would bring for them.

Miyazawa would make a comeback and eventually rose to become prime minister. American reporters loved him because he could speak English and had a fawning affinity for the United States, but he was corrupt and inept. He would be at the helm when the LDP lost government for the first time in its existence in 1993.

Sydney Morning Herald Tokyo Correspondent Peter Hartcher, then a young, almost cub reporter in his first posting as a correspondent, would let Australian readers know of the situation in Japan at the time. Hartcher would go on to an illustrious career as a political commentator.

Kiichi Miyazawa resigns as Finance Minister for accepting bribes in 1988

Lots has changed over the ensuing decades, but not prices, which have remained amazingly stable in that time, rising, but not to an unrecognizable extent as has been the case with Oz.

Mobile phones were non-existent in Japan then. Even car phones, which were not common but hardly rarities in Australia in the late ’80s, were unseen in late Hirohito-era Japan.

No worries about finding a mobile phone for a bit less than $4,000 nowadays, though.

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