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Mitsuo Horiuchi, the minister of international trade and industry, indicated Tuesday that additional pump-priming measures may be implemented to prevent a global economic crisis from originating in Japan.Speaking at a regularly scheduled news conference, Horiuchi said that to prevent further deterioration of Asian economies, “The prime minister may be considering new ideas. Or I would say he might as well do so.”He also acknowledged Western concerns that the Asian contagion could spread around the world. “Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has made it clear that Japan will not originate such a situation,” he said. “And that is why he has announced a surprise income tax cut worth 2 trillion yen.”Horiuchi also said that the nation’s economy will start improving after April, when the tax reductions and other pump-priming measures take effect. Japan’s inability to stabilize its own economy has been blamed for deepening the ongoing economic woes in Asian countries, which are closely linked to the Japanese economy.Meanwhile, officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s two non-Cabinet allies criticized the government Tuesday for being unduly soft in its monthly assessment of the state of the economy, party officials said.The government should give the public proper warning about the seriousness of the situation, officials at a morning meeting of Cabinet ministers were quoted as saying. The report, issued by the Economic Planning Agency, says, “The economy has remained at a standstill in recent months.”Kazuo Oikawa, policy affairs chief of the Social Democratic Party, was quoted as saying that use of the expression “standstill” to describe the economy is far from the reality. He noted that the report itself also says households and companies are perceiving greater severity and that the government has been mapping out economic stimulus measures.

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