Ministry says economy is still on moderate recovery track

Reports by local bureaus of the Finance Ministry confirmed Jan. 22 that the nation’s economy remains on a moderate recovery course helped by such factors as solid housing construction and corporate investment, ministry officials said.At the start of two days of debate, regional bureau and office chiefs said they are generally seeing mild economic recovery continue in their respective areas. Their reports were based on recently released economic indexes covering up to November and hearings held with companies up to this month.During the hearing, some companies have voiced concern over the fall in stock prices and the yen’s decline in value against the dollar since last fall, according to the officials. At the same time, businesses in some regions say they have been helped by the weaker yen, which boosts exports, the officials said.Overall, the government’s judgment on the nation’s economy remained basically unchanged. While exports were rising steadily in terms of volume, growth in imports has begun to slow down, reports from the regional bureaus showed.Unemployment remained the main concern for most regions, but many said the labor market was showing signs of improvement. The Tokai region, notably, was ahead of other areas in terms of economic recovery largely due to the increased production and export of automobiles, a key industry for this region.Okinawa’s economy was also on a recovery track, with the number of tourists visiting the island prefecture steadily increasing. Regional officials, however, noted there was still concern over relatively high unemployment levels in the prefecture.