Japan is escaping deflation, the government said on Friday as data showing rising prices, falling unemployment, higher incomes and factory activity gathering momentum pointed to an ongoing recovery in the world's third-largest economy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan have gambled on massive fiscal and monetary stimulus to spark life into the economy, and the accumulating signs of an upswing are seen strengthening the case for a planned sales tax increase.
Friday's data painted a brightening picture for a country seeking to escape 15 years of debilitating deflation: core consumer prices posted their biggest rise in nearly five years, unemployment fell to its lowest since late 2008, factory output rose and is expected to rise further, and workers' incomes rose.
"Japan is escaping from deflation," Economics Ministers Akira Amari told reporters.
Pessimists have argued that the benefits of "Abenomics," a three-pillar strategy of fiscal and monetary stimulus combined with a long-term growth strategy, may be short-lived and won't prompt companies to spend more on investment and wages.
And while the rise in prices has been driven largely by higher electricity bills and a weaker yen that has pushed up import costs, the job market strength and rising incomes bode well for personal consumption, which has been a key driver of the recovery.
The spreading meat scandal in China prompted Japan Wednesday to tighten inspections of food imports as Chinese authorities detained five employees of a Shanghai supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken. (Japan Times)
The Japanese government assured South Korea on Wednesday that it will uphold an official apology over frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II that mainly recruited Asian women as prostitutes. (Kyodo)
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the first half of 2014 hit a record high of 6.26 million thanks to the yen's weakness and increased international flights at Tokyo's Haneda airport, a government body said Wednesday. (Nikkei)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Wednesday visited a temporary shopping center, opened after the March 2011 disaster, in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (Jiji Press)
A group of residents from a village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to file for state arbitration so all villagers can be entitled to equal damages regardless of radiation levels of their areas. (NHK)
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