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.
One of three male teenagers arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing a 13-year-old boy along the Tama River in Kawasaki has told police that the ringleader threatened him, too, with death, investigative sources said Sunday. (Japan Times)
The last section of the Joban Expressway, designed to connect the Tokyo metropolitan area with the Tohoku northeastern region, opened to traffic on Sunday after delays caused by the nuclear crisis that began almost four years ago. (The Japan News)
A 57-year-old man being investigated on a charge of possession of illegal drugs, who escaped from police by stealing a taxi in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Feb 6, has turned himself in a police station. (Japan Today)
Japanese actress Rei Dan has been appointed an international goodwill ambassador for Japanese cuisine ("washoku"). Her mission is to spread appreciation for the many charms of "washoku," the agriculture ministry said. (Japan Today)