Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Hey look, we shrank the budget

Photo

Japan’s ruling Democratic Party has long vowed to wrest power from the country’s bureaucrats. Now it’s taking its battles with them over spending onto live internet TV.

Three government backed budget-cutting panels operating from temporary premises in a Tokyo gym, have called in a series of bureaucrats to answer for projects deemed unnecessary or too expensive. The live internet broadcast of the resulting stand-offs can make for compelling viewing.

JAPAN-ELECTION/SPEED

It’s also pleased voters concerned about Japan’s national debt, which is set to approach 200 percent of GDP next year. The website almost crashed on the first day of the hearings, when thousands of people tried to watch the broadcast at once, the Yomiuri newspaper said. 

For those who don’t follow it live, edited highlights appear nightly on news programmes, often focusing on Democratic lawmaker Renho, a stylish former TV presenter, as she grills squirming bureaucrats.

Oops, that was a secret?

Photo

JAPAN-POLITICS/It seems to have been an honest mistake for a new minister and Japan’s new government.

“I didn’t know about that (the release time). I’m sorry. Don’t make much of a fuss” Japanese Trade Minister Masayuki Naoshima told a TV reporter on Monday, right after he accidentally revealed the GDP figures ahead of their official release.

from MacroScope:

How to count a recovery

Photo

If it takes two successive quarters of falling GDP to enter a recession, how can a country emerge from recession with only one quarter of growth?  In the past week or so, journalists have declared the recession over in France, Germany and now Japan.  Of course, most reports rightly ask how long this will last and stress that a genuine recovery is far from certain.

Some people regard the two quarters definition of a recession as arbitrary and a bit silly, something supposedly cooked up by one of Lyndon Johnson's economic advisers  to avoid acknowledging a downturn until after the next election.

Spring blossoms or just a break from winter?

Photo

It’s official: Japan’s economy shrivelled at a record pace in the first quarter.

Needless to say the 4.0 percent contraction in GDP (an annual rate of 15.2 percent, if you speak American) from January to March was not pretty — especially when you see that the pain has spread from Japan’s big autos and tech factories to the broader economy.JAPAN-ECONOMY/

Whither the yen — a withering yen?

Photo

The yen’s fall against the dollar the past few weeks has been remarkably fast, and calculated from where it is now around 97.70 yen, the dollar has jumped nearly 9 percent this month, on track for its biggest such gain since August 1995.

The yen surged last year as the worsening financial crisis forced investors to unwind risky carry trades – meaning they had to buy lots of yen – under the belief that Japan’s economy and banks were holding up through the storm.

  •