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 death toll from the deadly landslides in the city of Hiroshima rose to 42 on Saturday, with 43 still missing, as rescuers continued to remove mud and pick through rubble in search of any survivors three days after torrential rain triggered the mountainside disaster. (BBC)
The number of people in Tokyo who were transported to hospital by ambulance in comas or other conditions after inhaling "dangerous drugs" came to 1,129 over the past 5½ years, including two fatalities, it was learned on Friday. (The Japan News)
The National Police Agency reported Thursday that police gave correctional guidance nationwide to a total of 220 minors younger than 18 who tried to provide sex for money or sell their used underwear online from January to June this year. (The Japan News)
A man suspected of groping a woman on the JR Yamanote line escaped by jumping onto the tracks at JR Ebisu station in Tokyo on Thursday night. His actions delayed trains along the Yamanote line for about 30 minutes, TBS reported Friday. (Japan Today)
The Imperial Household Agency has announced that Princess Noriko, 26, a daughter of Emperor Akihito's late cousin Prince Takamado, will marry Kunimaro Senge, 40, a son of the chief priest of the Izumo Taisha (Grand Shrine) in Shimane Prefecture, on Oct 5.
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a man to 4 1/2 years in prison for sending threatening letters to convenience store chains and other establishments linked to Tadatoshi Fujimaki's "Kuroko's Basketball" manga series. (Japan Today)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police suspect organized crime members participated in a shooting incident that took place on Thursday inside a coffee shop in the Nishikoiwa district of Edogawa Ward, reports public broadcaster NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
Police in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, said Thursday they have arrested an unemployed 28-year-old man on a charge of attempted murder after he stabbed his 23-year-old female friend in the back with a large kitchen knife. (Japan Today)
Justin Timberlake recently called Madonna a "mother chucking ninja". Some people in the US were upset, saying the word had racist connotations. In Japan, some folks were baffled by this controversy. (Kotaku)
Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. (AFP)
The body of a 7-year-old boy who went missing on Monday was found Wednesday on train tracks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Police said the boy appeared to have been run over by a train. (Japan Today)