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.
Police arrested a 40-year-old man Monday for allegedly setting fire to his own home in Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture, where four bodies, believed to be his children, were found amid the burned wreckage. (Japan Times)
Japan on Saturday pledged $6.1 billion in financial aid to the "Mekong Five" countries as it pushes infrastructure exports and courts influence in a region where rival China has an increasing presence. (arabnews.com)
A 26-year-old man was arrested Sunday for allegedly confining in his car an 11-year-old schoolgirl who went missing the day before in Nara Prefecture while shopping with her family, police said. (Kyodo)
A drug control division of the health ministry on Saturday announced the arrest of a former executive of public broadcaster NHK for the importation of so-called "dangerous drugs," reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 4). (Tokyo Reporter)
rown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, who are visiting Tonga, attended the coronation of King Tupou VI of Tonga held at a church in its capital, Nukualofa, on Saturday. This is the first time in two years that Crown Princess Masako has engaged in official duties overseas. (The Japan News)
Nearly 40 percent of single people in their 20s and 30s do not want a romantic partner, according to a survey by the Cabinet Office released in June. The survey was included in a government white paper on Japan's notoriously low birthrate that also found 46.2 percent of singles claiming that relationships were "bothersome." (Japan Times)
The 71-year-old man who set himself on fire on a Tokaido Shinkansen train on Tuesday told his sister he might kill himself during a phone conversation about 10 days before the incident, The Yomiuri Shimbun was told by the sister. (The Japan News)