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.
Typhoon Phanfone is gathering strength in the western Pacific Ocean, with projections showing that it may intensify significantly - likely to super typhoon status - before veering toward mainland Japan by Oct. 5. (mashable.com)
Fukuoka prefectural police continued cracking down on the Kudo-kai crime syndicate with the rearrests Oct. 1 of its two top leaders along with the arrests of seven other members in connection with the stabbing of a nurse. (Asahi)