Japan government mulls over $92 billion stimulus package to spur growth: report

Japan’s economic growth slumped to its weakest in a year in the third quarter. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Japan government mulls over $92 billion stimulus package to spur growth: report

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration will finalize the package early next week after consultations with the ruling coalition
  • Ruling party lawmakers have been pressuring the government to compile a big spending package

TOKYO: Japan’s government is considering putting together a large-scale economic stimulus package with fiscal spending exceeding $92 billion, the Nikkei newspaper said, as soft global demand and the US-China trade war dampen the country’s fragile recovery.
Adding strain to Japan’s tattered finances, the government will issue more bonds to fund public works spending of up to ¥4 trillion ($36.82 billion) and make up for tax revenue shortfalls as firms feel the pinch from the trade tensions, the newspaper said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration will finalize the package early next week after consultations with the ruling coalition, the Nikkei said, without citing sources.
Japan’s finance ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
Ruling party lawmakers have been pressuring the government to compile a big spending package, increasing the chance fiscal policy will play a bigger role in supporting growth despite the risk of more debt issuance.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Friday the central bank’s ultra-loose policy is aimed at hitting its price target, not at funding government spending, warning against complacency in getting Japan’s fiscal house in order.
Fiscal spending under the package will likely exceed ¥10 trillion yen, which will be funded by a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending in March 2020 and next year’s annual budget, the newspaper said.
That will roughly match a ¥13.5 trillion spending package put together in 2016, when Britain’s vote to exit the European Union jolted markets and heightened uncertainty over Japan’s export-reliant economy.
The package under work will include spending for disaster relief, infrastructure building and measures to help companies boost productivity, the newspaper said.
The government will also issue more deficit-covering bonds, as tax revenues for the current fiscal year will undershoot its initial estimate by around ¥2 trillion, the Nikkei said.
Aside from the fiscal spending, Japan will also provide financing to companies for overseas investment to help them diversify production, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Japan’s economic growth slumped to its weakest in a year in the third quarter as soft global demand knocked exports, stoking fears of a recession. Some analysts also fret a sales tax hike in October could cool private consumption.


At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

Updated 24 January 2020

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

  • A single tree that to bear 40 different types of apple

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum is not all about the fourth industrial revolution or the rise of AI.

You can also find all manner of strange and intriguing products on display from biodegradable plastic made from algae to wallpaper made from recycled corn husks.

One stand titled “How do you design a tree?” is part of a conservation effort where a single tree is designed to bear 40 different types of apple.

Another stand displays colored seaweed on a rack, showing how clothes can be dyed in a sustainable, non-chemically corrosive manner.

Propped along a large wall is Fernando Laposse’s wallpaper made of variations of purple corn husks that are reinforced with recycled cardboard and cork to create wallpaper and furniture. The husks come from corn that needs very little water and can be grown in the desert, which makes it all the more sustainable.

“This initiative helps the local economy as it brings in jobs and a resurgence of crafts and food traditions while also ensuring sustainability,” Laposse said.

Another display shows a machine that extracts pellets from a mixture of algae and starch and is used to create a thread that is the base of 3D printing. These sustainable, biodegradable plastics made from algae are being experimented with in different regions.

With the rise of deep fakes — a branch of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness — another stand delivers a warning on the looming dangers of unregulated software.

The Davos forum prides itself on its sustainability, and key topics have included climate, mobility, energy and the circular economy. Everything is recyclable, and participants must download an application in order to keep up with the program and any changes — a move to cut down on paper waste.