Japanese PM to announce new growth plans
Japan’s premier will on Friday unveil the next stage of his plan to reboot the economy, reports said, as he seeks to capitalise on the feel-good mood of a booming stock market and a plunging yen.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to announce broadbrush outlines of the third of his “three arrows” of a plan dubbed “Abenomics”, which is intended to turn around years of deflation in the world’s third-largest economy.
The first two “arrows” - a colossal government spending plan and aggressive monetary easing - have fuelled optimism in an economy that has struggled for two decades.
Tokyo’s main index, the Nikkei 225, has shot up around 70 per cent since late last year as a mood of optimism gripped Japan and the once-painfully strong yen shed around a quarter of its value.
But critics say thus far there has been precious little substance and the head of steam has been built on hope, with an economy still hide-bound by red tape that cossets some industries and stymies competition.
Abe was Friday set to announce plans that will include the establishment of special business districts with lighter regulation, private broadcaster Nippon Television said.
“We will work on measures to promote more corporate capital investment, the core of private investment that would contribute to economic growth,” trade and industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters on Friday.
The plans also include a target of tripling sales of Japanese infrastructure technology in overseas markets to US$290 billion by 2020, with Abe taking on the role of travelling salesman-in-chief for Japan, Nippon Television said.
Measures to strengthen the competitiveness of Japanese agricultural products in the global market are also expected, the broadcaster said, as are moves to boost Internet-related companies.
Japan’s farmers struggle to compete globally and their high prices are protected at home by sometimes jaw-dropping tariffs - rice imports attract a nearly 800 per cent premium.
Abe said last month his government would work on expanding business opportunities for women and providing job training for young people.
Experts have long argued that the country must bring more women into the workplace to broaden the male-dominated, shrinking labour market, which is being hit by retiring babyboomers and a falling birthrate.
Since his December election victory Abe has surprised many with an economic pragmatism that has borne fruit, reversing his image as an out-of-touch nationalist from a political family.