Fang, I would finish by this. I tried to find the data at work today but could not so far. Anyhow, in 2011, we used some official governmental data, which in jest said - the percentage of Japanese having int'l passport is smaller than that of citizens of US. Given the number of population being 3 to 1 in favor of USA, it means the pool of Japanese having the opportunity to travel abroad is far smaller (once again if you take out Tokyo and it looks much worse). Majority (50%+) of trips abroad, counted by type not by number of people travelled, was business and official. Most common destinations for travel abroad for leasure then, and I think now, were Korea, Guam, Saipan, HK, and I do not remember the exact order. You could travel to South Korea for 200 USD on a three day tour, while taking the shinkansen to Osaka and back plus the hotel would cost you twice. So, my point is that when you say you have friends traveling abroad, in most people mind, it could sound like globetrotting to Europe or S. America, when in fact most people travel very cheaply and very closely. Going to places like S. Korea or Guam, you never leave Japan, in fact. In Seoul, there was only one place we found where we could not order in Japanese.
I agree with Nutcracker that Japan is the biggest market for luxurious goods, but I think, I could not find the exact data, but as far as I remember, it was measured by volume in sales not in sold items, which in my mind should not be taken so highly, since almost everything is much more expensive than in other countries. Most things have a great mark-up. The last thing I remember checking was a pair of Allen Edmonds which cost me 300 USD plus shipping plus 6,000 JPY import tax which came cheaper than the 60,000 I needed to pay here in Japan for the same model. (or it was probably 70,000, I do not remember correctly)
It is true that this year department stores claim they have improved their suit sales, there was even an article in Nikkei on that, but as someone in the know remarked - it is only true because last two years the sales were so meager.