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.
Eight students in Osaka Prefecture suffered broken bones during a three-year period at a public junior high school while practicing or performing kumitaiso, the gymnastic formation known as a human pyramid. (Japan Times)
Satoshi Omura, a distinguished professor emeritus of Kitasato University, has won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with William Campbell for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites, Sweden's Karolinska Institute announced Monday. (The Japan News)
With the My Number law taking effect Monday, the government kicks off the controversial personal identification system to unify the administration of every resident's state services and records, and will start sending numbers out to tens of thousands of households. (Japan Times)
Niigata Prefectural Police on Tuesday raided headquarters of the troubled Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group as a part of an investigation into a baseball gambling case, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 6). (Tokyo Reporter)
Police arrested a former maintenance worker for Schindler Elevator KK on Saturday on suspicion of deliberately stopping one of the company's elevators near Tokyo and obstructing the company's business. (Japan Today)
A strong low-pressure storm with heavy winds and rains hit Japan from Thursday night to Friday, causing injuries, transportation disruptions, evacuations, blackouts and school closures mainly in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. (Japan Today)