Are Hipsters Ruining Japan?

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After a full decade of squashing Brooklyn under their delicate thumbs, hipsters are officially dead on American shores. What unlucky land have they decided to ruin next? Japan.

Japan's declining economic confidence has been blamed on many things, some of them sillier than others. (Unpopular Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's hideous country-western-Mardi-Gras shirt caused a firestorm and was declared a symbol of his outdated ideas.) This Week, The Washington Post's Chico Harlan is pinning it on "herbivores," the nation's unambitious waifs who'd rather shop and party than give their entire lives to a single company in the tradition of their dads. Witness how they fail to live up to the definitive mark of modern masculinity: "They are less likely to own a car, want a car, or drive fast if they get a car."

At Foreign Policy's Passport blog, Joshua Keating rolls his eyes at yet another Japanese decline-watch story. First of all, Japan isn't quite a society in decline. By world standards, it's super-rich. That Japanese males now want work/life balance is more likely a sign that the country is doing just fine. "You could probably develop an economic indicator for the point at which a country becomes affluent enough to develop irritating hipster subcultures," Keating writes. "The skinny-jeans coefficient perhaps?"

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