The lost decade of the 1990's in Japan turned into a lost two decades as the 2000's were little better, and unfortunately, it looks like the pain is likely to continue for a long time to come. Japan's debt-to-GDP ratio is an enormous 236% thanks in part to disastrous demographics which will cause the population to shrink by a third in the next 50 years. This will lead to a one worker/one retiree ratio by 2050, an extremely unsustainable level as there is no way one worker can sustain one retiree and have enough money to support a decent lifestyle. It's only a matter of time but something has to give, retiree benefits just have to be cut and retirement ages have to rise, otherwise Japan will be in a permanent depression. Unfortunately, the Japanese government, at the behest of the IMF, has decided to put more pressure on its fragile economy (nominal GDP is actually 10.6% less than it was in 1997) by doubling the sales tax to 10%. To make matters worse, the IMF actually wants them to increase the tax some more to 15%. This will all put enormous pressure on consumers as well as the economy as a whole potentially causing a Greek like crisis. Rising massive debt leves and a falling economy can make for a combustible mix.