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.
Police in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, have arrested a man who admitted to landing a drone with low-level radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister's office to protest the government's nuclear energy policy, officials said Saturday. (Japan Today)
Fukuoka Prefectural Police on Friday took the acting chairman of the Kudo-kai organized crime group into custody for a shooting death that took place seven years ago, reports the Sankei Shimbun (April 24). (Tokyo Reporter)
Japan's Cultural Affairs Agency said Friday it has put 18 cultural assets on the newly created "Japan Heritage" list in hopes of luring more foreign tourists and revitalizing regional economies. (Jiji Press)
Two men, a male teenager and a female teenager are under arrest on suspicion of abducting an 18-year-old teen from Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, and holding her captive, police said Friday. (Japan Times)
The Apple Watch launched globally on Friday with a small queue of Japanese tech-addicts lining up in Tokyo for Apple Inc's first wearable gadget, but there was no sign of the excitement usually attached to the company's product rollouts. (Reuters)
Survivors and bereaved families of victims on Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of a fatal train derailment in western Japan that took the lives of 107 people, hoping such an accident never happens again. (Kyodo)
An unusually high level of radiation has been detected at a park in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, the ward office said Thursday, prompting speculation that some kind of material has been buried there. (Japan Times)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of an organized crime member believed to be behind multiple fraud scams involving fake pregnancy accusations, reports TBS News (April 23). (Tokyo Reporter)
On Thursday, police from five prefectures, including Kyoto, arrested two executives of a company operating live streaming site FC2 Live in Osaka on charges of distribution of obscene material, reports the Sankei Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
A pet shop in Tokyo has been ordered to close for not maintaining a clean and safe environment for animals. It is the first time for such an order to be issued by the Tokyo metropolitan government. (Japan Today)
Kunihiko Kase, frontman of the music band "Wild Ones," was found dead at his home in Minato Ward, Tokyo, early on Tuesday. The Metropolitan Police Department is examining the cause of death, with the view the musician may have killed himself. He was 74. (The Japan News)