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.
Kanagawa prefectural police said Friday they have arrested four individuals in Ebina, in connection with a robbery case in which a pregnant woman on her way home was struck in the face and robbed of approximately 100,000 yen in cash. (Japan Today )
Yoko Ono says her own bitter experience in Japan during World War II inspired her to support WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign to fight childhood hunger around the world. (abcnews.go.com )
Japanese police arrested former sumo ozeki Kotomitsuki on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the immigration law by employing foreigners illegally at a barbecue restaurant he runs in Nagoya, central Japan. (Jiji Press )