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 spreading meat scandal in China prompted Japan Wednesday to tighten inspections of food imports as Chinese authorities detained five employees of a Shanghai supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken. (Japan Times)
The Japanese government assured South Korea on Wednesday that it will uphold an official apology over frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II that mainly recruited Asian women as prostitutes. (Kyodo)
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the first half of 2014 hit a record high of 6.26 million thanks to the yen's weakness and increased international flights at Tokyo's Haneda airport, a government body said Wednesday. (Nikkei)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Wednesday visited a temporary shopping center, opened after the March 2011 disaster, in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (Jiji Press)
A group of residents from a village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to file for state arbitration so all villagers can be entitled to equal damages regardless of radiation levels of their areas. (NHK)
Inventor and performance artist Showta Mori has been getting a taste of internet fame recently for his videos featuring his quick-draw, arm-mounted iPhone sleeve gun, but that's far from his only creation or even his weirdest creation. (rocketnews24.com)
A 49-year-old man arrested Saturday on suspicion of confining an 11-year-old girl at his house here has told police he wanted to be with the girl forever, according to a source related to the investigation. (The Japan News)