Japan suffered an economic catastrophe in the 1990s after the asset price bubble that had seen inflated stock and real estate prices during the 80s, popped. Twenty years of flat economic growth followed.
Now, in many parts of the world, including the UK, we could be facing a similar economic outlook, so what can we learn from Japan and was it really two "lost decades" of economic stagnation?
Roland Buerk reports from Tokyo.
Broadcast on Thursday 12 January 2012.