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Japan Falls Into Recession

By Takehiko Kambayashi, dpa (TNS)

TOKYO — The Japanese economy has entered recession, official figures for the July-to-September period showed Monday.

The world’s third-largest economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.6 percent in the quarter, following a contraction of 7.3 percent in the previous three-month period, the Cabinet Office said.

The reading was far worse than the 2.0-percent growth predicted in a poll of economists by the Nikkei business daily, as the country faced sluggish consumer demand after a controversial sales tax hike in April.

The contraction for the second straight quarter is bad news for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as it pursues a package of much-touted economic policies dubbed “Abenomics,” which rests on fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.

Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari conceded the downturn of the economy was bigger than the government had expected.

Amari said the prime minister would decide soon whether to go ahead with another sales tax hike to 10 percent in October 2015 after raising it to 8 percent in April, the first increase in 17 years.

The minister sounded a cautious note in regard to the second hike, saying the economy “must not slow down and fall back into deflation.”

Abe plans to announce his decision to postpone the tax increase and call a snap election, the Kyodo News agency reported, citing ruling Liberal Democratic Party sources.

Voting is expected to be held on Dec. 14 after he dissolves the powerful lower house, possibly as early as Wednesday, Kyodo reported.

“If the opposition were organized, they could exploit this as clear evidence of the hollowness of Abenomics as a recovery strategy,” Richard Katz, the editor of the Oriental Economist Report, said.

“But the opposition is both weak and divided amongst itself.”

On Monday, the office also reported consumer spending, which accounts for about 60 percent of gross domestic product, was up 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, after a 5.0-percent decrease in the April-to-June period.

Corporate investment edged down 0.2 percent for the second consecutive quarter of decline.

Exports climbed 1.3 percent, compared with a 0.5-percent fall in the previous quarter, while imports were up 0.8 percent.

Photo via Wikicommons

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Two Dead, Five Missing As Powerful Typhoon Slams Into Japan

TOKYO — A powerful typhoon battered many parts of Japan Monday, including Tokyo, disrupting transport and leaving at least two people dead and five missing, local media reported.
Typhoon Phanfone made landfall at the city of Hamamatsu, central Japan, shortly after 8 a.m. (2300 GMT Sunday), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
About 2.7 million people had been advised to evacuate their homes, but most of the advisories were lifted, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The weather agency was still warning of mudslides, swollen rivers and strong winds in some areas of the country.
Tens of thousands of households lost electricity in eastern and central Japan, while rainfall reached 87 millimetres per hour in the city of Shizuoka.
Two people were missing in Yokohama, near Tokyo, after two separate mudslides struck a temple and an apartment building Monday morning.
On Sunday, a 58-year-old woman was found dead after falling from a cliff in strong winds on the island of Okinawa, the Okinawa Times reported.
Three U.S. airmen were swamped by high waves on the island. One of the three was recovered and later pronounced dead at a local hospital while the other two remained missing, U.S. Kadena Air Base said.
Authorities were searching for a university student off the coast of Fujisawa city, south of Tokyo, who also went missing while surfing in the area, broadcaster NHK said.
Airlines cancelled more than 600 flights scheduled for Monday and many train services were temporarily suspended, including Shinkansen bullet trains, it reported.
The approach of Phanfone halted search operations for 12 people missing on Mount Ontake in central Japan after it erupted late last month and left at least 51 dead.
Authorities warned that heavy ash on the flanks of the 3,067-metre volcano posed a mudslide risk as the typhoon reached the country’s main island.
As of 3 pm, the eye of the storm was 210 kilometres off the coast of Ishinomaki city, travelling north-east at 85 kilometres per hour, the agency said.
The fast-moving typhoon carried maximum sustained winds of 126 kph and gusts of 180 kph, the agency said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co suspended all outdoor work at the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, which suffered a triple meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

AFP Photo/Charism Sayat

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Typhoon Batters Southern Japan, Injuring More Than A Dozen

By Takehiko Kambayashi, dpa

TOKYO — More than a dozen people were injured and nearly 600,000 advised to evacuate Tuesday as a powerful typhoon pounding southern Japanese islands.

Typhoon Neoguri was expected to pick up more power before it makes landfall, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, as it issued a storm surge warning for Okinawa’s main island.

Almost all flights to and from Naha, the capital of Okinawa, and ships linking the island with others were canceled as the agency also warned of high waves, heavy rains, and strong winds in the region.

About 100,000 households in the prefecture suffered power outages, local media reported.

Neoguri, the eighth typhoon of the season, was 160 kilometres west-north-west of Kume Island as of 6 pm (0900 GMT), traveling north-north-west at 30 kilometres per hour, the agency said.

The typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 162 kph and gusts of 216 kph, the agency said.

The agency projected Neoguri to make landfall on the southern island of Kyushu on Thursday.

With the typhoon approaching Kyushu, heavy rains already lashed the island.

Rainfall of up to 200 millimetres was forecast for southern Kyushu through Wednesday evening, up to 160 millimetres for Okinawa and Amami islands and up to 100 millimetres for south-western island of Shikoku, the agency said.

MCT Photo

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