World Bank head: Hike investment in Africa


World Bank President Jim Yong Kim expressed hope Monday that Japan will boost investment in Africa, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has highlighted as a key target market under the country’s economic growth strategy, the Finance Ministry said.

During a 30-minute meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister in the Abe administration, Kim said the global lender will help Japanese firms branch out in the continent, the ministry said.

Aso welcomed Kim’s remarks, saying support from the World Bank will benefit the Japanese business sector.

The government reportedly is aiming to triple Japanese exports to Africa by 2020.

Japan lags far behind China and other countries in investment in Africa.

The continent is expected to be featured in the administration’s forthcoming plan for economic growth.

Kim was visiting Japan to participate in the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which was held in Yokohama from Saturday through Monday.

DPJ raps ‘Abenomics’


Goshi Hosono, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan, challenged the administration to better protect the elderly and small companies, claiming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies ignore the risks of monetary easing and a weakened currency.

“It’s a fact that monetary easing and a weaker yen improved the mood, but there are also side effects and risks,” Hosono said Sunday on an NHK political talk show. “The government hasn’t taken sufficient care regarding the increased burden on pensioners and small business from rising import prices.”

Polls show voter support for policies that have helped drive benchmark stocks to five-year highs this year. The Topix closed last week 54 percent higher than it was in mid-November, when Abe pledged to revive growth by targeting 2 percent inflation. The economy expanded the most in a year in the first quarter as pledges for monetary easing weakened the yen and boosted shares, supporting exports and consumer spending.

Thirty-five percent of respondents in an April 23 poll by the Mainichi Shimbun cited the economy as the most important issue in the Upper House election scheduled for next month. Abe, whose first stint as prime minister ended in 2007 after 12 months under a cloud of scandal due to ill health, is supported by 74 percent of the electorate, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun poll published April 16.

Shares entered a correction last week, falling 11 percent from May 22 highs as the yen gained value. Shigeru Ishiba, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, has said the decline was an adjustment to earlier gains.

Reversals in the stock rally coincided with a jump in government bond yields as the central bank attempts to stoke inflation in a nation with 15 years of entrenched consumer-price falls.