The frenetic activity of the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has prompted optimism that Japan can reverse its economic drift. But activity shouldn't be mistaken for achievement.
Under Abe's second go as prime minister, Japan has initiated an ambitious "three arrows" economic recovery plan, christened "Abenomics." (Recent growth figures are cited as proof of the success of these new policies, despite the fact that they were not in place during the relevant period.)
The first arrow is a 10.3 trillion yen (US$100 billion) fiscal stimulus program to increase public spending. The second arrow is a further easing of monetary policy to increase demand, investment and inflation (to 2%). The third arrow mandates structural reforms to increase incomes and improve Japan's industrial competitiveness and productivity. Japan's total factor productivity in the manufacturing, non-manufacturing and agricultural sectors is the same as in 1991.
The policies have all been tried before, with limited success.
The government's spending program follows 15 stimulus packages between 1990 and 2008. Based on previous experience, it may provide a short-lived jump to economic activity but will not create a sustainable recovery in demand.
The mother of House of Representatives lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda was arrested Wednesday for alleged illegal electioneering involving the Tokushukai hospital group, the power base of Tokuda. (Jiji Press )
Yoko Ono says her own bitter experience in Japan during World War II inspired her to support WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign to fight childhood hunger around the world. (abcnews.go.com )
Japanese police arrested former sumo ozeki Kotomitsuki on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the immigration law by employing foreigners illegally at a barbecue restaurant he runs in Nagoya, central Japan. (Jiji Press )
A thousand days have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. However, only 1.2 percent of the planned land development for collective relocation of disaster-affected communities and construction of publicly operated housing have materialized, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun. (Yomiuri )
There is a fairly well-documented sex doll subculture in Japan, and one of its leading manufacturers is Orient Industry. Gaga and Universal Music Group's Japanese branch recruited the company to make replicas of the pop star. (businessinsider.com.au )
A 28-year-old Japanese woman was aboard a commuter train that crashed after derailing in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday morning, the Japanese consulate-general in the city said Monday. (Jiji Press )