The economic miracle in Japan is over.
The nineties were dubbed 'the lost decade' and the country is in a period of traumatic transition.
Newspapers now report stories of suicide, homelessness and alienated youth.
In 2005 the nation faces the memory of several haunting anniversaries - sixty years since the atom bombs and the beginning of the American occupation, ten years since the Tokyo gas attacks and the Kobe earthquake, and fifteen years of economic downturn.
In this series of letters from Japan, six leading writers reflect on these painful anniversaries, and consider what role they play in the Japanese mindset of today.