Japan economic data boost Abe ahead of vote » Manila Bulletin News

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By AFP

Tokyo – A raft of broadly positive economic data gave Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a boost on Friday, as he kicked off an election campaign in which the health of the world’s third-biggest economy will play a major role.

Factory output grew more than expected while household spending – seen as key for Japan’s exit from years of deflation – edged up and the unemployment rate sat at a more than two-decade low.

Japan’s industrial production growth came in at 2.1 percent in August, the latest evidence of an economic recovery, capping off six straight quarters of gains in the April-June period – the longest winning streak in over a decade.

The country’s prospects have recently improved with investments linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics giving the economy a shot in the arm.

“On the whole, the data show the Japanese economy is on a healthy path’’ to recovery, said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, adding that the latest factory output figure was “especially good.’’

UBS economist James Malcolm added: “In short, things are on track.’’

Abe stunned Japan this week with a surprise call for a snap election, seeking to capitalise on a weak opposition and a boost in the polls, as voters welcome his hawkish policy toward neighbouring North Korea which has launched missiles over Japan.

The premier, who dissolved parliament Thursday, claimed that his government “put an end’’ to Japan’s decades-long economic slump after he took office in late 2012 in a landslide election victory.

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