PM confident of recovery

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 January, 1999, 12:00am

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said yesterday he is certain of Japan's economic revival.

Mr Obuchi told a New Year news conference there are 'positive moves or quickening' being felt in the economy.

'I do not have the slightest doubt about a Japanese economic revival.' Japan's economic recovery is all the more important, he said, because 'Japan, Asian nations and the world are sailing on the same boat in a rough sea'.

He also vowed to bring 'true affluence' to Japan.

'I would like to tell people we aim to bring them peace of mind in five areas and to deliver true affluence.' He said his government would focus on economic recovery, employment, environment, social security, elderly life, and child raising.

'Have we really become affluent?' asked the prime minister of the world's second-largest economy, adding he had doubts when considering the people's poor housing and other living standards.

Mr Obuchi, however, did not promise another economic stimulus package if the government found itself unlikely to achieve its 0.5 per cent growth forecast for the next financial year.

The two sets of pump-priming measures last year were 'sure to have a positive effect', he said.

Mr Obuchi also said he would not reshuffle his cabinet until after his return from a European trip in mid-January.

He stressed the need for a strong global presence for the yen after the introduction of the euro in Europe. 'Two currencies are better than one currency and three currencies are better than two . . . It is desirable to share the responsibility,' he said.

The premier also said a promised income tax cut, in which the top rate is to be reduced from 65 per cent to 50 per cent, will begin in April but be backdated to January.

Refunds for the January-March period will be made in June.