Japan PM: women key to promote economic growth

Japan's Prime Minister Friday unveiled new growth strategies with a special focus on expanding business opportunities for women and providing job training for young people.

Shinzo Abe also boasted of the benefits of his controversial big-spending, easy-money policies -- dubbed "Abenomics" -- that have fuelled optimism in an economy that has struggled for two decades.

"Who are the human resources that Japan has failed make the best use of? They are women," he said in a special press address.

"I believe they make up the core of our growth strategy. I firmly believe that talented women using their abilities could become an economic driving force for Japan," he said.

Abe pledged to work with the business sector to provide measures to encourage working mothers, such as improved availability of day-care services.

Experts in and out of Japan have long argued that the country must bring more women into the workplace to broaden the nation's male-dominated, shrinking labour market, which is being hit by retiring babyboomers and a falling birthrate.

Abe also said he has already started discussions with business leaders about providing employment measures for young people, especially about ways to encourage them to study abroad to acquire skills necessary to compete with foreign rivals.

The new measures were short on detail, but were the latest attempt by Abe to define policy initiatives that have so far cheered investors and business sentiment.

The address comes as Abe's aides suggest economic reforms, including setting up special business districts with lowered corporate taxes and lighter regulation in a bid to attract foreign investors.

Since his December election victory Abe has surprised many with an economic pragmatism that has borne fruit, reversing his image as an out-of-touch nationalist from a political family.

The headline Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange has soared nearly 50 percent since he took the helm of the Liberal Democratic Party in September. The yen has plunged from 77.72 to the dollar to 98.45.

Many economists have warned that Abe's policies are a risky gamble with no long-term certainty except for further worsening Tokyo's already huge debt burden.

But intoxicating market rallies and the yen's precipitous slide have found favour in the business community, forcing critics of Abenomics to the sidelines.

  • 2015 Dodge Charger goes under the knife 1 hour 11 minutes ago
    2015 Dodge Charger goes under the knife

    Over the past decade, Chrysler's rear-wheel-drive sedans have managed to survive a bankruptcy and three different corporate overlords. Thanks to the original stoutness of the Mercedes-assisted chassis, and the periodic updates that keep them from seeming like 21st-century versions of the Ford Crown Victoria, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger combo still draw in fans. Today, Dodge revealed yet another redesign for the 2015 Charger — and for an old car, it's quite the change.

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers 1 hour 12 minutes ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Here are the top trending stories of today in case you missed them:

  • 2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd 15 hours ago
    2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd

    Nissan says its 2015 Murano crossover, only the second major revamp of the car since it debuted in 2003, draws its design cues from the “age of future space flight.” That’s probably taking it a little far, but the new Murano, based off the 2013 Resonance concept vehicle, is an exceptionally lovely machine, all fluid, curved metal on the outside, and flowing, soft-touch materials on the inside. Certain kinds of comfort and charms that were unheard-of outside of premium vehicles five years ago have definitely trickled down, and reached a kind of design apotheosis with this car.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.