The Decline in the Popularity of Stamp Collecting in Japan

Like Germany, Japan was devastated as a result of WWII. American bombing had destroyed industrial production, and the war had killed a high percentage of young adult males. Many homes were in ruins, and the electric and telecommunications grid was annihilated. Like Germans, the Japanese are an energetic and frugal people, and by the 1960s, fifteen years after the end of hostilities, Japan had largely rebuilt and was on its way to reemerging as one of the industrial powers of the world. The Japanese poured their export earnings into technology and universities and infrastructure, but unlike the Germans, the Japanese never really got into stamps.
Philately never had much of a tradition in Japan. There were some important native collectors, but one of the greatest students of Japanese stamps was Tracey Woodward, a non-Japanese. Rarely are the great philatelic students of any country non-nationals, but this was the case with Japan because the country produced so few philatelists of note. What is unusual about Japan now is that philately, though never popular in previous periods, has become even less so over the last twenty years. The Japanese economy has been in a prolonged recession mainly because export-led demand has slowed due to other countries, like China, with far lower labor costs for exports. Japan’s population is stagnant and aging. Aging populations are generally good for philately, but with no tradition of stamp collecting, there are no old stamp memories or collections for Japanese to fall back on when they age. Twenty years ago, the Japanese had many large stamp dealers and an active philatelic trade. Today the collecting of stamps in Japan is moribund.
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