Japan Real Time Charts and Data

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Japan related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Japan data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Japan Once More Back in Deflation?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A shortage of leadership and ideas

Yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Aso released his administration's economic support plan, amounting to 15.4 trillion yen or about $150 billion. Bloomberg reports that PM Aso's stimulus plan is receiving largely negative reviews from economists. This plan would result in Japan's total debt reaching 800 trillion yen by next March. The Bloomberg piece states that
"Aso, 68, said the government will consider raising the consumption tax from the current 5 percent once the economy recovers “in order to not leave a huge debt to our children.”
The amount of $150 billion is not that large relative to the size of Japan's economy or even the measures that other governments are taking. Further, "once the economy recovers" is a hypothetical, and raising consumption taxes whenever would likely push the country back into recession. The government has been avoiding raising consumption taxes for precisely that reason.

As part of the same economic support plan, the Guardian tells us that Aso said "Japanese content, such as anime and video games, and fashion draw attention from consumers around the world", and "Unfortunately, this soft power is not being linked to business overseas. By linking the popularity of Japan's soft power to business, I want to create a 20-30 trillion-yen market by 2020 and create 500,000 new jobs." What's delusional about this idea is that it appears that the Japanese government thinks it can generate the spread of Japanese culture by government programs. Quality in relation to cars and quality in relation to art/ideas are two different things.

If Japanese leadership has realized it can't count on US consumption to generate an economic recovery, that is a good thing. But it sounds like more of the same when they talk about exporting culture and taxing consumption.