Long accustomed to living in one of the world’s most expensive countries, Japanese consumers this year are enjoying a rare treat: falling prices.
The government reported Tuesday that prices this year through November averaged 0.1 percent lower than last year. If the pace continues through December, it would be the first year of deflation in Japan since the 1950s.
Japan is in the fifth year of its deepest recession since World War II, and consumers on tight budgets have flocked to new bargain outlets, adding downward pressure on prices.
The Prime Minister’s Office said consumer prices in the Tokyo metropolitan area were 0.5 percent lower in December than they were at the same time last year.
The decline in the capital was driven in part by a sharp drop in fresh fruit prices, which declined 12 percent, and vegetable prices, which fell 15 percent.
The Prime Minister’s office said the last deflationary year in Japan was 1958.