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Central Bank Says Japanese Economy Continuing to Improve


The Bank of Japan has revised upward its assessment of Japan's economy for the second straight month. It credits an increase in exports and wages.

Central bank governor Toshihiko Fukui says the nation's economy is coming out of a soft patch.

Mr. Fukui tells reporters that the economy "has almost broadly emerged from a stalled stage." He adds that he does not think there will be any immediate economic impact from the political vacuum created by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolving the lower house of parliament and calling national elections after the upper house rejected his postal privatization package on Monday.

Economy Minister Heizo Takenaka says the economy has emerged from its slumber. Mr. Takenaka says this is in line with a government scenario that the economy will overcome the lull around the middle of the year.

But some economists are skeptical of the timing of the minister's remark. Some say the comment is meant to emphasize progress of the prime minister's structural reform initiative ahead of the September 11 national election.

A survey of Japanese economists shows a split among them about whether Mr. Koizumi should keep his post.

The Nikkei newspaper, Japan's leading financial daily, says its survey of economists at 10 financial institutions finds that half of them believe Mr. Koizumi should continue to lead Japan. But none of them said they want opposition Democratic Party president Katsuya Okada to take over. The economists fear a Democratic Party administration could introduce tax hikes, hurting the Japanese economy.

While yet another survey has put Tokyo at the top of the list of the world's most expensive cities, it is not the costliest place to buy a typical home. The Japanese Association of Real Estate Appraisal says that dubious honor goes to Singapore, where the average house is more than 2.7 times as expensive as in Tokyo. The average price of a single-family home in Tokyo, including the land, is just above 100 million yen - more than $900,000.

The association says while land prices dropped more than 20 percent over the past decade, they have nearly tripled during the same time frame in such cities as London, New York and San Francisco.

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