Wall Street Kid: Our Man in Japan

This is Part 4 in a 5 part series based around Wall Street Kid for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It originally appeared in the zine The Backlog: Fortunate Son.

To buy this in zine form, click here.

Our Man in Japan

Note: This essay is an “aside” to the other articles on Wall Street Kid.

Wall Street Kid is based on the Japanese Famicom game The Money Game II: Kabutochou no Kiseki (ザ・マネーゲーム2 兜町の奇跡). The gameplay is the exact same, except that money values are displayed in Japanese Yen instead of US Dollars.

The story in the original version is slightly different. For example, the main character is working to start a family, not to impress his uncle. Similarly, all of the items that he must buy are leading towards a finding a wife, having children, and building a sustainable future.
While many ‘80s business leaders looked towards Reagan, others looked East. As Japan became an economic superpower, people wrote articles trying to figure out what made them so successful. Stuart Picken writes in the Journal of Business Ethics that Japanese companies focus on improving society as a whole.

For example, the Toyo Glass company had the following corporate philsophy: “Our objective is to contribute our share of work towards the happiness of the public at large.”

Rather than focus on profits, they focused on happiness.
This subtle change between versions demonstrates the cultural stereotype that Americans work for an individual’s status and wealth while the Japanese work for their families.

Keep in mind, though, that Wall Street Kid isn’t the American perspective of the stock market; it’s the Japanese perception of how Americans viewed the stock market.

In 1991, Japan’s bubble burst as the Nikkei stock index crashed. Japanese financial institutions had greatly overestimated the values of real estate and stocks. For the next ten (some even say 20) years, Japan had a “Lost Decade” of economic stagnation.
Perception is not reality. While Japan had convinced the rest of the world that they had discovered the secret to financial success, the US was saying the exact same thing. Who was right? That’s the problem: we won’t know until it’s too late.

Sources

  • Picken, Stuart D. B. (1987). “Values and Value Related Strategies in Japanese Corporate Culture”. Journal of Business Ethics 6, pp. 137-143. D. Reidel Publishing Company.
  • Wikipedia Contributors. “Lost Decade (Japan)”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06 Jun 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Decade_(Japan)

The conclusion to the Wall Street Kid series will be released on July 5th, 2017.

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