Japan is one of the few countries in the world that has never had an economic boom.
It has the lowest birth rate of any OECD country and a huge amount of debt to service.
Its GDP per capita is just 0.1 per cent of the US and is below that of Germany and France.
But it has one of world’s largest economies, its manufacturing sector, its most advanced universities and the largest concentration of millionaires in the OECD.
There is a reason Japan is known as the ‘Japan of the East’.
Its people, rich and poor, have the most varied tastes and lifestyles.
But for many Japanese, there is also a cultural difference.
There are many who have never travelled outside Japan, and many Japanese people, including many who work abroad, are not familiar with the west.
And for many, it is easier to be a good-looking Japanese man than a good Chinese woman.
‘It is just about having the right skin colour, having a big face and a good face shape,’ says Shoko Okazaki, a marketing executive who lives in Tokyo.
Okazaki says she feels her family’s heritage has influenced her, and her family are not too different from many of her peers.
‘We have our origins in Japan.
I was born in Japan, so I know Japanese and I know the culture.’
Okazaki has a Japanese mother and Chinese father.
‘My mother is a very smart woman, she is very cultured and very beautiful, she loves fashion and her favourite clothes are Japanese clothes,’ she says.
Okasaki and her mother both hold degrees in marketing.
‘In Japan, we are called chubby and fat, which we are very proud of.
We like to wear these things and it is very important to us,’ Okazaki explains.
Okakas mother is from a working class family and she says she wants her daughter to be proud of her heritage.
‘She should be proud and she should be the person who is trying to express her heritage.’
Okakazas sister is Japanese, and has been to Japan.
She also feels her parents were more aware of her ancestry.
‘I was really interested in my family’s history,’ Okakaze says.
‘But it wasn’t like we were very proud, because we didn’t like to think about it.
I remember being very angry when I was very young.
I wanted to be like everyone else and I wanted my parents to be able to know that I am Japanese.’
Her mother is now in the United States and Okakaki is studying for a degree in marketing in New York.
She hopes to work in a marketing firm.
‘When I was a kid, I used to always dream about getting married, going to Japan, visiting Japan, being in Japan,’ Okagaya says.
The relationship between her parents and her sister has not always been happy.
‘Her parents used to say things like: “Why are you so beautiful?”‘
Her father was an alcoholic and she claims her father was abusive and disrespectful to her.
‘He made me do stupid things.
He used to beat me, he would yell at me.
He was always beating me, and it was really painful,’ Okake says.
When Okakase married a Japanese man in 1995, the two spent two years together in Japan after the marriage.
‘After two years, we had a baby, but it was still really painful.
He made me feel that I was in love with him,’ Okako says.
She has since reconciled with her father.
She says her family was very strict, and she believes that the relationship between them could have been more.
‘The marriage wasn’t good,’ she explains.
‘For my father, it was very difficult.
He wanted to marry me, but I said no because he had to work.
I thought that it would be more fun for him to have a child, to have kids with a woman.’
Okake’s father is a businessman who is also her uncle.
‘This was a difficult relationship because he was very close to my mother,’ Okayas mother says.
There have been many divorces between Okakashas family and her parents, and one of them is between her mother and her father who divorced in 1995.
‘Even though they divorced in 1997, he still wanted to keep it,’ she recalls.
‘His wife would come home and tell him: “I am the daughter of your father.”‘
She and her sisters say they had to pay for her father’s medical care in Japan and she had to give him money.
Okako said she was afraid of losing the money because of her parents’ financial problems.
‘They could not pay for their child, they had nothing, so they had a hard time caring for it,’ Okas mother explains.
She was also concerned about her father because she felt he was not a good father.
Her mother says that Okakasa was always told she