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Where have all the foreigners gone?


The latest from Japan, Inc’s Terrie Lloyd: Talking of meltdowns, the problems in the international banking sector is obviously hitting the Tokyo expat community hard. Although there are no statistics, it is not difficult to see evidence of the escalating departure of foreigners as the recession (or is it already a depression?) gathers pace. Restaurants serving expats are more than half empty on Friday nights, Roppongi streets are less crowded, and bars and entertainment establishments are offering generous incentives to get people in.

Other evidence of the emptying of Tokyo’s expats can be found at the various foreign business and social clubs. Most clubs have had unprecedented decreases in membership and one particular major foreign social club is said to have lost hundreds of members, about 2.5% of its membership, in a single month at the end of 2008 alone.

Of all the vendors supplying the foreign market, perhaps none is taking the drop in expats harder than the real estate business. Looking at expat real estate websites, there is a much larger inventory of listings than normal, and prices for older apartments and houses have dropped 30% or more over the last 6 months. See the Ken Corporation website ( for examples of bargains now available — and this is before negotiation.

Of course, if the recession continues much longer, today’s bargains may be tomorrow’s over-priced non-negotiable contracts — such is the nature of deflation. In any case, the number of listings show both that people are leaving the country in droves and also that there is an active opportunity for those people remaining to at very least “upshift” for better conditions as their contracts come up for renewal.

Terrie also writes: Our Entrepreneur Handbook Seminar is obviously filling a need in the community right now, as many people look at their employers and see the writing on the wall. We had a sell-out audience of 35, and still more people wanting to attend. So, we have decided to re-run the seminar next month for those people unable to make it this month. The new date will be Saturday March 14. Details will be posted on the website shortly, at:

Lastly, Terrie’s Take is proud to be a supporter of The Japan Helpline. To get help 24 hours assistance with any
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