With Japan’s most ambitious plan to pull out of two decades of economic stagnation still a work-in-progress and the nation seeking to recover from a recession, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking a fresh mandate for change.
Abe, 60, leads his coalition to an early election with a mixed record for his Abenomics program. Successes in a more-competitive exchange rate, stock-market boom, surge in corporate profits and the end of deflation contrast with scant gains in full-time jobs, a slide in inflation-adjusted wages and the midyear recession.
Whether unprecedented easing from the central bank and government spending helps the economy back onto a path of sustained growth, or just adds to what is already the world’s heaviest debt burden, hinges on Abe completing the structural changes and deregulation that are the third part of Abenomics.
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