It never enters the mind of the pork-cutlet-over-curry-rice 3rd-generation prime minister of Japan that what he is doing is a lap or two behind. He thinks he is ahead of the curve.
From Nikkei Shinbun's exclusive interview (1/10/2013) with PM Abe on his economic policies which are collectively dubbed as "Abenomics" in Japan, by an uncritical reporter who does not ask tough questions (for that matter, any question):
Role of Bank of Japan:
"I want [Bank of Japan] to be responsible for the real economy. They should keep maximum employment mandate in mind," Abe said, indicating his thoughts that [BOJ] has to strive for increasing employment through financial policies. As to the foreign exchange, he said "Japan has lost competitiveness because of the foreign exchange. It is the responsibility of the government and the central bank to correct (a strong yen). We have to keep trying."
As to the mechanism of cooperation with BOJ, he said "I want to formalize the agreement." He said he would include the 2% inflation target in the joint communique. As to when the 2% target will be achieved, he said "In many counties in the world, there is no date given. However, it cannot be long. If it takes long, it's not a target at all."
If BOJ cannot achieve the 2% inflation target, "BOJ will have to explain" in the advisory board meeting.
The reason why the prime minister demands maximum employment [mandate] for BOJ is the US Federal Reserve Board, whose mandates are "price stability" and "maximum employment".
Successor to Governor Shirakawa:
"It has to be someone who fully understands the idea that Bank of Japan should play a decisive role in stable [inflation] target of 2% and maximum employment. The person also needs to be a man of action who will impress others in the international arena."
Japanese Constitution (Article 9):
As to exercising the right of collective self-defense which the government has interpreted as "not allowed", Abe said "I will officially receive the conclusion by the discussion group (which was established during the 1st Abe administration), and I want the group to further discuss", indicating his policy to come up with concrete steps to allow the exercise of the right.
Abe is probably unaware that it is rare for a central bank to have dual mandates like the US Federal Reserve. ECB's mandate is interest rate stability, and nothing else. I was extremely disappointed to see Governor Shirakawa of BOJ immediately folded after Abe became the prime minister and agreed to have the inflation target. I guess Mr. Shirakawa wanted to serve out his term, which will end in April 18.
I had to laugh when I read "man of action". Like him, I suppose, who can gobble up pork cutlet over rice curry in 3 minutes.
As to high yen hurting the economy, it was not very long time ago that Japan was roundly accused of manipulating the currency at extremely low level to gain export advantage.
Just like Bernanke and most Federal Reserve governors, Abe thinks it is possible to manufacture steadily rising 2% inflation. I guess he's right. The US core inflation does not include food and energy anyway, and those are the two items that have gone up significantly under Bernanke's printing press, particularly in the past 4 years.
Just like the US Obama administration eager to ditch the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, Japan's LDP has been itching to modify the Article 9 so that Japan can jump into action when an ally is attacked by a hostile force and attack the aggressor even when Japan itself is not attacked (right of collective self-defense). So whenever the US soldiers in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. are attacked, the SDF soldiers will get to go and use live ammunition? How exciting it must be for a chicken hawk like Abe.
I have a suspicion that most Japanese do not understand what the "right of collective self-defense" actually means. They may be thinking it is a right to collectively defend their country. If they are not curious enough to know what it really means, I'd have to say they deserve what they get.
There is also a long article at Nikkei site that covers the entire interview, but as soon as I started to take a look my head started to hurt because of his sheer, utter economic ignorance. If you read Japanese, the link is this (you have to sign up (free) to read the whole article).
From what I could tolerate to read the long article, Abe says he will going to somehow force companies to pay more salaries to workers. That will drive the companies that still remain in Japan out.
Lunacy that has been with Japan for the past 20-plus years has just got out of proportion, if that's possible. ("My kind of place" must be the thinking at Goldman Sachs, though.)
In both Nikkei articles, there is not a single word about the nuclear accident, radiation contamination, or even the recovery in the disaster affected areas.