Back in the 1980s, Japan was an economic powerhouse and the envy of the world. But there appears to be no end in sight to its current decline, as jobs are lost, pensions cut and companies move overseas. The country's much-vaunted social cohesion is also disintegrating as people find themselves forced to rely on their own resources. few of Japan's traditional virtues are still in evidence today... Japan, formerly Asia's largest economy, has been in the throes of an extended crisis for almost two decades. Growing impoverishment is only one of the symptoms.