Japan's industrial production data, released on Wednesday, may have offered a light at the end of the tunnel for the long stagnant economy.
In November, industrial output rose 1.5 percent on month, just a tad below the Reuters forecast for a 1.6 percent rise, up from a flat reading in October.
But the big positive was in the details, particularly in inventories, which fell 1.5 percent on-month and 4.8 percent on-year.
Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday that the print was generally "very positive," noting the sharp inventory drop.
"We're now down to levels we saw pretty much at the time of the VAT [value-added tax] hike. So inventories are very lean, which means that we should some pretty strong production numbers in the months ahead," she said.
As part of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's program to boost the country's long-moribund economy out of decades of deflation, dubbed Abenomics, the nation-wide consumption tax was boosted to 8 percent from 5 percent took effect in April 2014, in a move aimed at improving government finances.
But that clobbered the economy as consumers stopped spending after the hike, forcing the government to postpone a second sales tax increase, potentially until 2019.
After teasing us with a behind-the-scenes trailer showing Piko Taro with Canadian singer Justin Bieber on the set of their new SoftBank commercial, the telecommunications provider finally made the big reveal last week, by releasing several of the ads on their official YouTube channel. (rocketnews24.com)
Five Japanese companies have teamed up to re-create legendary comic book robot Astro Boy in toy form. The product marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of comic and animation master Osamu Tezuka. (NHK)
The government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion newly added 16 faults to a list of major active fault zones in which a magnitude-7 or larger earthquake could occur. (the-japan-news.com)
The tracks of the now-defunct Takachiho Railway in Miyazaki Prefecture - discontinued due to damage caused by Typhoon No. 14 in 2005 - have been revived as a popular tourist attraction that carried 26,000 passengers in fiscal 2015. (the-japan-news.com)
Japan's Foreign Ministry has protested to South Korea over a video clip that calls the body of water between the Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula the "East Sea" instead of the "Sea of Japan". (NHK)