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 administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted legislation for providing one hectare of land per citizen in the Far Eastern part of the country, including four northwestern Pacific islands disputed with Japan. (Jiji Press)
A total of 11,672 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke in the nation from July 27 to Sunday, the biggest weekly total since comparable records began in 2008, and 25 of them died, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. The report shows preliminary figures. (The Japan News)
Officials at Japan's Meteorological Agency launched a system on Tuesday to issue faster warnings about volcanic eruptions. The move comes after Mount Ontake erupted in central Japan last September, killing 58 people. (NHK)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday arrested a 33-year-old painter for allegedly stabbing a man he suspects was engaged in an affair with his wife, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Aug. 4). (Tokyo Reporter)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday arrested a 24-year-old male believed to be involved in a series incidents in which he slashed the skirts of female passengers inside train cars, reports TBS News (Aug. 3). (Tokyo Reporter)
A fire occurred on an MOL Ferry Co. ferry about 55 kilometers off Tomakomai, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Friday evening, leaving a crew member missing, according to the Japan Coast Guard and the operator. (Jiji Press)
Jimmy Page, the guitarist of the legendary British rock band Led Zeppelin, on Thursday visited Hiroshima and laid flowers for the victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city 70 years ago. (Japan Times)
The average life expectancy for Japanese women rose to a record high of 86.83 years in 2014 from 86.61 years the previous year, marking the world's longest for the third straight year, government data showed Thursday. (Jiji Press)