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It's Only by a Yen or Two, But the Trend Seems Clear: Japan's Currency and Costs are Getting Cheaper by the Day


     No sooner did the Yen decline to a rate of 100 to the U.S. dollar, than within a short while it fell to 101.  And yesterday it dropped to 102 plus a fraction.  With a rate of 103 and 104 to the dollar appearing inevitable, the fall in value of the Japanese currency seems destined not only to aid Japan's export of electronics and cars, but to give a dramatic boost to its incoming tourism.  Already, waves of visitors from nearby Thailand are inundating the various Japanese cities, and sharply increased U.S. tourism is in the offing as well. 

     In all, the Japanese currency will have fallen by nearly 30% from its value of two years ago, making everything in Japan nearly 30% cheaper.  While Japan was once regarded as more expensive to touring than Europe, it is now surely on a level with Europe and about to become cheaper.  The lesson for U.S. vacationers--who can reach Japan from the U.S. west coast for about $1,000, round-trip--seems clear:  if you have put off a trip to Japan in the past, you should re-consider that step now.  Japan is a fascinating destination with much to entertain and edify both the senss and the brains of U.S. tourists. 

     What brought about this drop in the Japanese currency?  It is a deliberate new policy of economic stimulus championed by Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe.  It is a program directly at odds with the economic austerity advocated by Angela Merkel of Germany, David Cameron of Great Britain, and certain politicians in the U.S. (a European approach that has cast much of the continent into recession and slowed economic recovery in the U.S.--the "sequester" being an example of American policy.  Japan, by contrast, is now enjoying a 3.5% increase in its gross national product.

     Anyway, putting political policies aside, the impact on tourism is clear:  Japan has regained its one-time status as a moderately-priced vacation destination.