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A man looks at share prices on a quotation board at the Tokyo Stock Exchange - 


Steve Chiotakis: Here's why we should care if the economy in Japan is on the skids: it's the world's second largest, and it shrank by four-tenths of a percent in the third quarter. The second drop in a row and the official title there of "recession." But there are different economic mechanisms at work, as Marketplace's Asia correspondent Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Japan's recession is not a subprime story; its banks are healthy. The problem is exports -- the overseas sales of everything from cars to electronics to heavy equipment.

It's not just American soccer moms and dads who aren't buying. The eurozone just entered recession, and China is slowing dramatically, too.

Take the case of Toyota. Its balance sheet now looks so wobbly that its AAA debt rating is now in question. Today, the Fitch ratings agency placed Toyota in the ratings watch negative category.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott