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.
An independent judicial panel of citizens said Thursday it has decided that three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. merit indictment over the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. (Kyodo)
Osaka police said Wednesday they failed to report roughly 81,000 criminal cases to the National Police Agency between 2008 and 2012, or nearly 10 percent of the total reported by the prefectural police force during the five-year period. (Kyodo)
Police in Japan say that a 16-year-old girl has admitted to slaying her classmate because she "wanted to kill someone" and "dissect" the body, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News. (huffingtonpost.com)
On July 16, Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested Koichi Yokoyama, a former Liberal Democratic Party member of the Kanagawa Prefectural Assembly, for allegedly possessing stimulant drugs at his apartment in Yokohama last month. (Tokyo Reporter)
Golden-gai, a warren of tiny bars near Shinjuku's Kabukicho entertainment district, has long been a refuge for writers, musicians, filmmakers and other artistic types, who congregate at drinking establishments with like-minded patrons. (Japan Times)
On July 7, Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested 30-year-old Ikki Jin for allegedly slipping a sleeping powder into an alcoholic drink consumed by a 23-year-old male and robbing him of a total of 350,000 yen in cash and valuables in February. (Tokyo Reporter)
Coverage of Hyogo prefectural assemblyman Ryutaro Nonomura's July 1 televised tantrum is finally winding down in the mainstream media. But on the Internet, where a YouTube video of his press conference registered over 2 million views in just two days, it's still going strong. (Japan Today)