Japan's economic growth performance in the 1960s and 1970s was considered as miraculous and, in fact, the Japanese were able to build new houses, send their children to schools, and achieve one of the best longevities in the world. From this vantage point, as evidenced by economic and social indicators (wage level, school enrolment ratios, health coverage ratios, and so on), the Japanese have attained higher living standards.

However, if we look at the level of people's subjective well-being based on the government's survey data on overall life satisfaction, this achievement may need some cautious interpretation. Life satisfaction between 1978 and 2005 has shown a definite declining trend, particularly since the mid-1980s.1 To find a means to change this downward trend, we need to examine conditions related to the essential elements...

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