Japan's cabinet approved a $10.7 billion economic stimulus package just weeks before an election the ruling party is expected to lose, while analysts questioned its likely benefits.
The new spending of 880 billion yen ($10.7 billion) was more than double a package announced in October as the country gets set for polls that most say will usher in its seventh prime minister in six years.
Friday's move, which came as official data showed Japan posted a surprise uptick in factory production last month, will also likely trigger vote-buying criticism from opposition lawmakers.
The spending -- which will come out of reserve funds -- will focus on boosting growth in a range of sectors, including healthcare and agriculture, as well as on public works projects following last year's quake-tsunami disaster.
Opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan will be defeated by main opposition leader Shinzo Abe who heads the Liberal Democratic Party.
Abe has vowed to spend heavily on public works and pressure the Bank of Japan into launching aggressive monetary easing measures to boost growth if his party win the December 16 vote.
The BoJ has unveiled two policy easing measures since September.
US President Barack Obama has left the United States for his first trip to Japan in about 3-and-a-half years. Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a summit meeting on Thursday. (NHK )
The education ministry conducted national academic achievement tests on Tuesday for all final-year students at primary and middle schools across the country. About 2.24 million students at about 30,000 schools took Japanese and mathematics exams. (The Japan News )
Japan and the United States are now seen deferring a broad trade agreement until after a summit meeting set for Thursday due to differences over key issues, informed sources said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )
The virus strain that caused bird flu at a poultry farm in southwestern Japan has been confirmed to be genetically identical to the one found in South Korea, the National Institute of Animal Health said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )
Airport authorities in Tokyo launched a frantic scramble to change security pass codes, an official said Tuesday, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives, after an airline employee dropped a memo containing the details. (Japan Today )
A former judge from the Ministry of Justice is alleged to have installed a camera inside a women's toilet inside a ministry building in Kasumigaseki, people with knowledge of the matter announced on Monday, reports Sports Nippon (Apr. 22). (Tokyo Reporter )
Police in Fuso, Aichi Prefecture, said Sunday they have arrested an unemployed 38-year-old man for attempted murder after he broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend and stabbed her and her parents. (Japan Today )
Feeding black-tailed gulls has been a popular activity on the sightseeing boats that cruise around the Matsushima islets, considered to be one of the three most beautiful spots in Japan, but local authorities banned the practice this month in a bid to protect the islets' famous pine trees from withering as a result of nitrogen in the droppings of the gulls, who have bred in large numbers in the area. (The Japan News )