Japan approves US$10.7b stimulus package
The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Friday approved a US$10.7 billion economic stimulus package, reports said, ahead of elections that his ruling party is widely expected to lose.
The new government spending of 880 billion yen (US$10.7 billion), reported by Dow Jones Newswires and Japanese media, was more than double an earlier package announced in October.
Approving a spending package after calling an election has been viewed as an unusual move that may trigger vote-buying criticism from opposition lawmakers.
The new spending would reportedly focus on boosting growth in a range of sectors, including health care and agriculture, as well as on public works projects following last year’s quake-tsunami disaster.
Opinion polls suggest Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan will be defeated by main opposition leader Shinzo Abe who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, amid calls to reverse slowing in the world’s third-largest economy.
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 he is elected to the country’s top political job after December 16 elections.
Japan’s economy contracted in the July-September quarter, nudging it toward recession and dousing hopes it had cemented a post-disaster recovery.