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 National Police Agency reported Thursday that police gave correctional guidance nationwide to a total of 220 minors younger than 18 who tried to provide sex for money or sell their used underwear online from January to June this year. (The Japan News)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Thursday announced the arrest two suspects, including one organized crime member, for the alleged sale of drugs to troubled singer Aska, reports public broadcaster NHK (Aug. 21). (Tokyo Reporter)
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a man to 4 1/2 years in prison for sending threatening letters to convenience store chains and other establishments linked to Tadatoshi Fujimaki's "Kuroko's Basketball" manga series. (Japan Today)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police suspect organized crime members participated in a shooting incident that took place on Thursday inside a coffee shop in the Nishikoiwa district of Edogawa Ward, reports public broadcaster NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
Police in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, said Thursday they have arrested an unemployed 28-year-old man on a charge of attempted murder after he stabbed his 23-year-old female friend in the back with a large kitchen knife. (Japan Today)
Justin Timberlake recently called Madonna a "mother chucking ninja". Some people in the US were upset, saying the word had racist connotations. In Japan, some folks were baffled by this controversy. (Kotaku)
Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. (AFP)
The body of a 7-year-old boy who went missing on Monday was found Wednesday on train tracks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Police said the boy appeared to have been run over by a train. (Japan Today)
A U.S.-based social media challenge daring people to douse themselves with buckets of ice water has spread to Japan, with celebrities from billionaire Masayoshi Son to singer Ayumi Hamasaki taking up the gauntlet to boost awareness of what is known as Lou Gehrig's disease. (Japan Times)