It's those taxes. 1/3 of what you make goes for taxes, and
In South Africa the income tax rate is 40%. There is VAT of 14% on virtually everything,
there is also property tax way above the $4000 you quote, plus surcharge on petrol,
tight customs rules, tax on TV, tax on booze, cigarettes etc. Oh yeah, you need
medical insurance too, for one person that amounts to $300 per month easily.
1/3 in tax is a bonus to me.
As for Japan, the glory days are over. I constanly hear complaints from friends
about the standards declining, more people not going to university, and so
on. They have serious issues with low birth rates over there, a system of
social security which is falling apart and an ageing population, hence the
investment in robotics.