Kana Inagaki

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Can Japan feed itself?

At the end of the month, in supermarkets across Japan, regular staff and a secret army of wholesalers will work the shelves through the night on a project that none of them — from national chains to local stores — are able to talk about openly.

When the food retail industry’s collective doors open on October 1, shoppers who have barely experienced inflation since the early 1990s will be hit by the most severe price shock in almost two generations.

The prices of more than 6,000 daily food items will have soared overnight; so too, say experts whose warnings have long gone unheeded, will the Japanese public’s realisation of what it means to depend upon the most vulnerable food supply system in the developed world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Global inflation: Japan faces a moment of truth

In the summer of 1998, the Japanese currency slid to its lowest level against the dollar since the calamitous burst of the economic bubble seven years earlier. A senior finance ministry official, Haruhiko Kuroda, cautioned that an excessive fall in the yen was negative for the Japanese economy.

Nearly one-quarter of a century later, Kuroda is the governor of the Bank of Japan and sounding a familiar refrain as the yen continues its descent through a 24-year low, again breaking the level of ¥137 against the dollar and leaving traders uncertain when the slide will stop.

“The recent rapid acceleration of the yen’s decline is not desirable”, Kuroda said last month, following discussions with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.…  Seguir leyendo »