Chapter 6  ......The Rising Sun

One of the principle reasons for the sudden interest in Gold Coast real estate by the Japanese can be traced back to a decision by the Japanese Government, to alter the rules governing the Post Office Accounts. The Marayu savings law had come into law back in 1963, when the local economy laboured under a deficiency of cash. Low cost capital was needed to set up new heavy industries, so the planners of the day opted to create this capital flow from the ordinary man and women in the street. Under the system the Japanese were permitted to create tax free interest bearing accounts, with a maximum ceiling of three million yen, the equivalent of $32,000AUD, in 1988. Naturally conservative, Japanese found the scheme so attractive that many reached the limit in very quick time. This limitation gave rise to accounts being raised in false names and whilst this was against the law, it certainly was not against the spirit. The government only too happy to facilitate the flow of cheap capital, simply turned a blind eye. In time these pigeon holes for surplus cash became receptacles for ‘favours’ money that found its way into the hands of many politicians. As the Japanese economy expanded so too did the call by outside nations to restrict the entry of goods that were causing hardships at home.

Just as the government had opted to use the people for gathering much needed capital, so too did it abandon the mechanism, when it became an embarrassment. On April 1 1988, the Marayu system came to an end. The money accumulated in those accounts reached an unheard of $3.47 trillion dollars, ) twenty-three times the present national foreign debt of Australia. In an effort to appease the concern of the transfer of global cash into Japan the government encouraged its people to ‘relax a little’ and travel abroad. This action served several purposes. Firstly it superficially created the illusion that Japan was moving to ease pressure on the foreign exchange of goods. The money that was supposed to ease the pressure was in the main part being spent domestically, whilst only residual monies flowed into other countries. Where Japanese money went it was often followed by entrepreneurs, with seemingly bottomless wallets. In time the hotels, the services and associated industry came to be Japanese controlled. Secondly, it enabled and fostered goodwill between countries. Since the early times the Japanese have sought to win acceptance abroad

On the face of it, it would be easy to categorise the Japanese as free-spenders. This they are not as the Marayu Savings accounts had demonstrated. Historically these people have displayed what we in the west would call a group mentality. Their capacity to be able to work together for the greater benefit of the country has resulted in the position of strength that they find themselves in today. In the 1950’s Japan was relatively poor; even so the savings rate was in the order of 20%. 1954 saw the United States and Britain working feverishly to help open up markets that a post war Japan could export to. A poor Japan was not in the interest of trade just as it is not today with the Commonwealth Independent States, formerly the Soviet Union. A more compelling reason to assist Japan, lay in the belief that Communism spread rapidly among the poor and was already taking hold. America, saw an imminent threat to her maritime dominance of the Pacific if Japan became a Communist country. One has only to look at a map of the region to appreciate the strategic value of Japan to the western world. Vladivostok, principle port of the Eastern Soviet Union would have provided unimpeded military access to the Pacific Ocean. As it turned out the advent of the Korean War provided the necessary impetus to lift Japan off the floor. With the financial assistance of America, factories that had been earmarked for demolition, a move contemplated to break up the kaibatsu , were suddenly given a reprieve. As the wheels of heavy industry began to turn, manufacturing much needed military transport for the Korean front, Japan began to claw its way back. Such was the plight of the ordinary person that the United States called on both Australia and New Zealand to assist in the effort to inject primary products into Japan, the act of benevolence to be justified on humanitarian grounds. Neither country was in a mood to accommodate, nor did they. Many millions of Japanese have a total abhorrence of war, but the military largely responsible to the Emperor, Hirohito, who in turn responded pretty much to their will, had little choice but to accept the guilt of crimes of war committed in their name. Those who for purely political reasons sought to ‘help’ Japan were impeded inhibited by their own revulsion of her deeds. Investment capital to retool simply was not available, except that large companies that had survived the war, found it at best...difficult. One such man was Akio Morita, joint founding father of the Sony Corporation and the man who gave birth to the ubiquitous Walkman. In his autobiography, Made in Japan he recalls: “Despite rising affluence in the late fifties, we had a great deal of difficulty raising money and had to rely on friends and introductions to people who might become investors”. Whilst war-torn Japan struggled to rebuild, we, in the Southern Pacific bubbled along on the crest of an economic wave.

Thirty two years later I was painting a home on Cronin Island, for that was my trade, when a mate called out “ hey Bruce, come and take a look at this”. A stretched limousine a new phenomenon on the Gold Coast, had pulled up alongside the oval, that was a feature of the area. Around the perimeter of the oval sumptuous homes; sumptuous that is, for the time. Two men, alighted from the limousine . One, an Asian and at that time something of a novelty and the other a local. The former immaculately dressed in dark suit contrasted severely with the younger man who wore shorts, short sleeves and socks to his knees. From the distance the Asian could be seen pointing to various homes, whilst the other appeared to take down notes. Apart from the curiosity factor, the moment passed, raising no great concern among us. In the months ahead the sight was to become commonplace, but for the present it remained no more than a fascinating spectacle to witness.

In hindsight it is interesting and indeed amusing to ponder on the coincidence of fate. The home I was working on at the time was a delightful two story villa with a Mediterranean flavour about its architecture. With a palisaded verandah running the full length of the house, this luxurious building, fronted the Nerang River. Part of the interior was being gutted at the instruction of the architect, to accommodate the wishes of its new owner, who must have been one of the earliest Japanese to acquire Gold Coast property. Those who know me may be curious to know how I reacted to this situation. The fact is I didn’t, because at that time, neither I or anyone else to my knowledge took umbrage to the presence of our distant Asian neighbours.

Within five years this beautiful home was to be levelled to make way for a mansion that was to spread across the adjoining blocks on both sides. The new owner was to be Mr Shuji Yokoyama...better know as the face of Daikyo

Chapter 7