Japan's longest growth run in 16 years may not guarantee future prosperity
Japan Times -- Nov 16
Japan's economy marked a seven-quarter growth run through September --- the longest in 16 years --- but the outlook appears less rosy, as surprisingly strong private consumption before this summer may prove to have been just a blip.

With policymakers hoping consumers were finally loosening their purse strings, there is a sense of disappointment that the goal of achieving improved domestic demand remains elusive.

Gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 1.4 percent in July-September amid robust exports of electronic components and cars. But the data released Wednesday showed private consumption, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the GDP, fell for the first time in seven quarters. It slipped 0.5 percent in July-September following a 0.7 percent increase in April-June.

Economists say there is no cause for excessive pessimism as the slowdown was widely expected and private consumption will likely trend toward a moderate recovery.

But the prevailing view is that robust wage growth continues to be the missing link that would spur consumers to become more confident about spending.

"On balance, private consumption will likely grow at a moderate pace and yet slow wage growth will become a bottleneck," said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. "The economy may be cruising ahead, but what matters is how it's going to build speed from now."

Surpassing the 57-month Izanagi boom between 1965 and 1970, the current economic expansion cycle is believed to be the second-longest in postwar Japan.

With exporters reaping the benefits of the yen's depreciation, earnings at major Japanese companies have spiked. Share prices followed, hitting multiyear highs as global economic growth becomes what the International Monetary Fund has termed "broad-based."

Still, critics say the benefits of such an expansion have yet to be felt broadly by consumers as nearly five years of "Abenomics" has so far failed to break Japan free from deflation.

In a fresh bid to inject momentum into his push for what he calls a "virtuous cycle" of strong wage growth-stimulated consumption, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now increasingly calling on companies to play their part. Abe is calling for a 3 percent hike in salaries in wage negotiations between management and labor unions next spring.

内閣府が発表した7月から9月期の実質GDP(国内総生産)は年率換算で1.4%のプラスでした。輸出が好調で約16年ぶりの7四半期連続のプラス成長となりました。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
Jul 22
Several beaches ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan have been reopened for bathing for the first time in 8 years. (NHK)
Jul 22
In sumo, Mitakeumi beat Tochiozan on the 14th day of the Nagoya tournament on Saturday to win his first title with 13 wins and one loss, ahead of the final day. (NHK)
Jul 22
Imagine wrapping up a tough work week and jumping into a three-day weekend and find out the whole ATM system is down until the following Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Jul 22
Some of the major foreign supermarket chains that entered Japan around 2000 offering low prices made possible through bulk purchases have exited the country. (Japan Times)
Jul 21
Severe tropical storm Ampil is moving toward Japan's southwestern island of Okinawa, bringing strong winds and high waves. (NHK)
Jul 21
Japan's health ministry says the average life expectancies for men and women hit record highs in 2017. (NHK)
Jul 21
The proportion of women with children who said they were employed stood at a record high of 70.8 pct in 2017, exceeding 70 pct for the first time, a survey by the labor ministry showed Friday. (Jiji)
Jul 21
Severe heat continues across much of Japan. (NHK)
Jul 21
The life and times of Japan's first golfer: Amsterdam 1605 (thesamuraigolfer.com)
Jul 21
As people in Japan treated themselves to grilled eels on eel-eating day Friday, many were faced with a larger bill amid soaring prices for the endangered fish. (Japan Today)