Business urges Cabinet to focus on economy still

Business leaders on Tuesday called on the incoming Cabinet to maintain policies that give priority to Japan’s economic recovery.

The most serious task facing the next Cabinet is putting the economy on a genuine recovery path, Kosaku Inaba, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in light of the resignation of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s Cabinet after he suffered a stroke.

Yoshiro Mori, secretary general and the No. 2 man in the Liberal Democratic Party, is expected to succeed Obuchi as party leader and prime minister today.

Takashi Imai, chairman of the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), said he expects the incoming Cabinet to seek the prompt passage of bills needed to implement projects under the fiscal 2000 budget.

Takuya Okada, chairman of major supermarket firm Jusco Co., said the new administration will continue to speedily implement economic measures, as they did under Obuchi’s government.

Meanwhile, financial experts said the Cabinet’s resignation is unlikely to affect stock prices or economic activity.

Hidenori Karaki, head of the securities department at Tokyo-Mitsubishi Personal Securities Co., said the government’s economic policies are likely to remain intact regardless of who succeeds Obuchi as prime minister.

Now that the fiscal 2000 budget has passed the Diet, stock market attention is focused on whether a sustainable economic recovery, led by private demand, will materialize, said Shigeharu Shiraishi, managing director of SG Yamaichi Asset Management Co.

The 225-issue Nikkei average finished at 20,594.93 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday, down 132.06 points, or 0.64 percent, from the previous day. But analysts attributed the fall to profit-taking after the closely watched index hit a 40-month closing high Monday.

Growth forecast lower

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The International Monetary Fund has revised downward its estimate for Japan’s real economic growth for 2000 to 0.9 percent from the 1.5 percent forecast last October, a news report said Monday.

The IMF made the forecast in the semiannual World Economic Outlook to be released next week ahead of a series of international financial conferences in Washington.

Japan’s real gross domestic product for 2001 is expected to grow 1.8 percent.

The IMF revised upward world economic growth estimates for this year to 4.2 percent from the 3.5 percent projected in its last outlook report released last October.

GDP growth worldwide will slow to 3.9 percent in 2001.

The IMF forecast said the U.S. economy will grow 4.3 percent this year in an upward revision from 2.6 percent estimated in October.

The U.S. economy was expected to grow a slower 3.0 percent in 2001, the IMF forecast.