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Growth

Japan outlines structural reforms to rejuvenate the economy

The Japanese government has presented a blueprint for reforming the national economy that is meant to be a decisive step toward overhauling economic structures. But not all analysts were convinced.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday outlined the third leg of his economic policy aimed at removing some of the old and unproductive structures in place right now.

So far, "Abenomics" had focused on monetary easing and boosting public spending. But Abe had been aware all along that structural reforms would have to follow in order to underpin sustainable growth in the long run.

"Now is the time for Japan to be an engine fro world economic recovery," Abe said. He called on industry to be determined and use its capacity for action.

Limited faith in industrial policy

The prime minister said he had a package for industrial innovation and incentives for cash-hoarding corporations to invest more again. Abe intended to raise private investments in roads and to set up strategic economic zones where private companies would be allowed to operate public facilities such as airports.

He also said measures would be taken to encourage more women to work by improving access to affordable childcare and extending parental leave. He said there'd also be a loosening of labor regulations that were currently discouraging job hopping. Per capita incomes would be raised by 3 percent per year to fuel consumer spending.

Some analysts doubted whether Abe's reform plans would go far enough to kick-start the ailing economy. Investors also seemed largely unimpressed, with the benchmark Nikkei index down over 1 percent shortly after the prime minister's announcement in Tokyo.

hg/kms (AP, Reuters)