Mainstream media outside Japan has focused on the Fukushima Dai-ichi radioactive leakage. According to Tokyo Electric Power Co, which manages the facility, radiation “levels as high as 100 millisieverts per hour were detected near the tank.” Government regulators’ suggest workers should only be exposed to this amount of radiation in a span of 5 years. Citizens and anti-nuclear energy backers are concerned it could endanger drinking supplies and local environmental life. Water inside the reactors’ cooling system, however, flow into basements and trenches that have been leaking since the 2011 earthquake disaster. Highly contaminated excess is pumped out and stored in steel tanks on elevated ground away from the reactors, eliminating possible widespread contamination. Local officials have said they will closely monitor the situation, providing help should it be required.
Shinzo Abe, the current Japanese prime minister, nonetheless, has witnessed good economic news out of Japan: exports have risen the most since 2010 impart to stronger demand from Europe and U.S and a weaker Yen (1 € = 132円 and $1 = 99 円, respectively). The exchange rate between U.S and Japan has fluctuated amid recent U.S home sales dipping in July and the Federal Government’s tapering of bond purchasing starting in September: the Fed would bring down its pace from $85 billion per month on bond purchases to $60-65 billion per month.
The Ministry of finance in Tokyo said that exports increased 12.2 percent from a year earlier after a 7.4 percent rise in June. Imports climbed 19.6 percent, leaving a trade deficit of 1.02 trillion yen ($10.5 billion). Exports to China, Japan’s biggest trading partner, rose by 9.5% from a year earlier. The news is advantageous for the economy but it may not translate to employers. Current hope is that a weaker yen will boost exports and profits for Japanese companies, thereby, increasing cash revenue for businesses and employee salaries. Anti-Abeconomics, Shinzo Abe non-backers, criticize this policy because it caters to large companies that can potentially make the Japanese markets reliant on foreign investors who could sell the currency at lower value, thus, making buying imports costly for Japan.
Nevertheless, analysts have predicted that Shinzo Abe’s direction will help revive domestic demand while stimulating economic growth. Next on the agenda for the prime minister is to abate the shrinking labor force by encouraging more women to return to work. He plans to encourage maternity leave and expand child care centers, which could add as many as 8 million workers, bringing the employment rate of women up to that of men. Abe is tackling many issues and next on the agenda for him is the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership).