Econintersect: The two big economic items in the news for Japan are an increase for a proposed stimulus package and persisting high radiation levels for some of the fish off the Fukushima coast which was devastated by the 11 March 2011 mega quake and tsunami. Japan which has one of the highest consumption levels per capita of fish, has had one of their important fisheries closed due to 40% of the fish species having radiation levels exceeding safe consumption limits. The problems are cesium-134 and cesium-137 which are coming from the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown following the natural disaster.
(Picture shows the greenling, a species with high rafdiation levels near Fukushima. Click on picture to see larger picture and article at Scientific American.)
The concern is that radiation levels have not shown any declines in the past year indicating that continuing new contamination is entering the area. Normally a single contamination “spill” will be naturally dissipated by ocean currents and radiation levels will decline over short periods of time such as a year. Once contaminated though, the fish remain unfit for consumption for decades as the half-life of cesium-137 decay is 32 years.
The stimulus is expected to be a multi-step process starting with an initial phase of ¥400 billion (about $6.4 billion) and continuing with additional funding stages over time. The new amount is double the initial proposal of ¥200 billion because of the recent weakness in the Japanese economy (GEI News).
Part of the first stimulus package will be focused on helping small businesses rebuilding from the natural disaster. Also in the package will be aid for fuel cells for households and efforts involved with the environment, medicine, agriculture and fisheries.
Currently the package is held up by a deadlock between political parties in the Japanese Diet over debt financing. The government hopes the deadlock will be resolved before the end of November.
Current reports do not indicate how many future stages of stimulus may be in the offing.
- Radioactive cesium level in fish off Fukushima not declining (Malcolm Foster, Japan Today, 16 October 2012)
- Radioactive Fish Near Fukushima Suggest Ongoing Contamination (David Biello, Scientific American, 25 October 2012)
- ¥400 billion in stimulus on the way (Japan Times, 26 October 2012)
- Japan Exports Plunge (GEI News, 22 October 2012)
- Japan posts a trade deficit as exports fall (BBC News, 21 October 2012)
- Japan sees trade deficit in Sept on lower exports (Associated Press, Yahoo News, 22 October 2012)
- Japan: Export Collapse Continues (GEI News, 21 September 2012)
- Japan Balance of Trade (Trading Economics, 19 September 2012)
- Japan Feuds with Neighbors Over Islands (GEI News, 20 August 2012)
- Japan GDP Growth Revised Lower (GEI News, 10 September 2012)