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.
Government figures show a sharp and continuous fall-off in the number of farmers over the past five years that potentially threatens the landscape as its stewards leave the sector and are not replaced. (Japan Times)
Japan plans to boost financial aid to developing countries to help them tackle climate change by providing about ¥1.3 trillion (about $10.6 billion) a year by 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday. (The Japan News)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday re-arrested more than a dozen suspects, including one organized crime member, as a part of an ongoing health insurance fraud investigation that now includes comedians affiliated with a major entertainment agency, reports Sports Hochi (Nov. 28). (Tokyo Reporter)
No major gangster bloodbath has occurred in the three months since Japan's largest yakuza organization, Yamaguchi-gumi, split into two rival mobs, but to say the sides are living in harmony would be an exaggeration. (Asahi)
A 60-year-old man in Tochigi Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, who claims to be an exorcist was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing a diabetic boy by halting the administration of insulin, police said. (Japan Today)