Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Japanese PM to air plan for US$5 trillion economy

BETTER LIVES:Shinzo Abe was due to outline plans to improve social services to lighten the burden of caring for children and the elderly for Japan’s struggling families


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, chants Banzai with his fellow senior lawmakers in front of a national flag after being officially reappointed president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, fresh from a bruising battle over unpopular military legislation, plans to announce a fresh outline for reviving the world’s third-largest economy that would set a GDP target of ¥600 trillion (US$5 trillion).

National broadcaster NHK and other media outlets said Abe would explain his plan in a news conference yesterday evening.

Abe, re-elected head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has promised to refocus on the economy after triumphing over opponents to security legislation enabling Japan’s military to participate in combat even when the nation is not under direct attack.

Thousands of Japanese gathered for noisy street protests last weekend over the “collective self-defense” law and Abe’s popularity rating took a hit.

Abe took office in late 2012 promising to end deflation and kick-start growth through strong public spending, lavish monetary easing, and sweeping reforms to help make the economy more productive and competitive. So far, those “three arrows” of his “Abenomics” plan have fallen short of their targets, though share prices and corporate profits have soared.

“He has to deliver the message that he is so committed to achieving the economic agenda, that is, to make people’s lives better,” Masamichi Adachi of JPMorgan Chase & Co in Tokyo said.

NHK said Abe was due to outline plans for better social services to lighten the burden of childcare and caring for the elderly for struggling families in the coming three years of his administration. He was also due to pledge more help for the poor, especially children living in poverty.

Japan’s economy, estimated at US$4.6 trillion last year, contracted at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter. Economists have warned that China’s slowdown and market turmoil could weaken an expected recovery.

The biggest hurdle to faster growth is the apparent reluctance of Japanese employers to raise wages, despite severe labor shortages in many industries.

With wages still barely rising, families have tended to save and increases in demand from monetary stimulus measures have been weaker than expected.

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