The victorious Democratic Party of Japan did not put economic growth at the heart of its electoral sales pitch. The party's manifesto mentions "growth" only once. The word "support", by contrast, appears 19 times.

Even so, there are reasons for optimism that the DPJ's softer and more nurturing policies are just what the economy needs.

The global slump provided a painful reminder of the dangers of Japan's export-oriented growth strategy. Output has fallen even faster than in other rich countries, leaving national income at roughly the same level as in the early 1990s.

After two decades of stumbling between recessions, policy makers need to convince their citizens to spend some of their vast cash savings, which are now equal to 1.5 times GDP. Making the Japanese feel more secure may be the best way of doing this.

There is plenty in the DPJ's platform that looks encouraging. If Japan's new government can enact election pledges, Japanese citizens would have fewer reasons to hoard cash.