World

Japan’s Stimulus Aims to Reverse Economic Negativity

by Patrick Bogart

Only 5% rate economic conditions as good

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Faced with a deep recession and faltering confidence in economic conditions, Prime Minister Taro Aso this month unveiled the largest economic stimulus package in Japanese history. The Japanese economy shrank more than 12% during the fourth quarter of 2008. A Gallup Poll conducted in early December 2008 shows just 5% of Japanese rated economic conditions as "good," which is down from 21% earlier in the year.

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The Japanese government's $150 billion package of subsidies and tax breaks is the country's third stimulus package since September 2008. Gallup data from December of that year show that previous proposals did not reverse public perceptions of the economy. The percentage of Japanese reporting that economic conditions were getting worse climbed every quarter in 2008, finishing the year at 90%.

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Japan markets
Pedestrians look at an electric market board in Tokyo, Thursday, April 9, 2009, when Japanese stocks rallied to their highest close in three months, in part due to the country's plans for a massive stimulus package. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

Since Aso took office in September, Japanese ratings of their leadership have remained low. In September and December of 2008, just 26% of Japanese approved of their country's leadership. Leadership approval averaged 28% in the first half of 2008. The success of the stimulus package may help determine whether approval ratings rebound over the coming months.

In its earliest stage, Asian markets have been receptive to Japan's stimulus. Bolstered in part by the stimulus, the International Monetary Fund has predicted that Japan's economy will post 0.5% growth in 2010 after this year's continued contraction.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 750 adults in Japan, aged 15 and older, in March 2008, June-July 2008, September 2008, and December 2008. For results based on the total samples of adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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