Not a whole lot of change compared to last month. Inflation continues to rage on, JPY continues to weaken (currently at 134 JPY/USD as I write this), and market continues to fall.
Japan is slowly preparing to re-open to tourism, probably targeting a full “reopening” for later this summer, but no official announcement yet. As of mid-June they have resumed “tourism” with North Korean-style chaperoned fixed-itinerary tours with handlers and strict supervision. But for the privilege of participating on one of these tours, you need to book through a pre-approved tour company, need to be fully vaccinated, and need to apply for a travel visa through the Japanese embassy, as visa waivers continue to be suspended. I can’t imagine many people would want to participate like this, which I suspect is the intent of the policy. Japanese politicians can claim to be making progress towards re-opening to the tourisim industry, while at the same time not actually changing much to appease voters who have been enjoying life without crowds of unruly tourists everywhere. There is an election coming up in late July, and I would be truly shocked if things go back to normal before then. After the election, I think policymakers will feel more comfortable loosening tourism restrictions without risking getting voted out. If the yen remains weak until then, that would be an excellent opportunity to come visit.
US inflation doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon, despite the Fed gradually raising interest rates. As I understand it, there are still lots of supply shocks due to continued Chinese lockdowns (who could have known that a zero-covid policy would be so hard to maintain?!) as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupting basic food staple supplies. I recently checked and saw that gas prices are averaging over 5-6 USD / gallon where I used to live. I think that’s actually higher than gas prices even in Japan (in Tokyo gas price is about 4.50 USD / gallon), although that might partially be due to the weak Yen at the moment. I’m really glad that I don’t need to drive in Japan and even the train prices are stable and have not changed in years. And even if train prices do increase (doubtful), all companies reimburse employees for commuting costs so it makes almost no difference to my bottom line. Yet another reason why living in Japan is superior to living in the US!
Here’s a summary of my financial status at this point:
Projected time to FI (assuming 6% growth and 4% withdrawal rate): 11 years, 4 months.