More positive data for Japan as exports surge by the fastest in more than two years, but pressure for prime minister Shinzo Abe mounts amid opposition party suspicions he used his influence unfairly to help a friend set up a business.
Exports are up, and after a string of positive data, so is sentiment. The latest: a near 15 per cent rise in the number of goods Japan has sent to other markets over the last year. It's the best performance since early 2015. If the fact it's below what economists expected show it's still heavy going. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "The biggest drag on the economy for so many years now has been domestic demand, and that is something that they're still looking to fix. The lack of wage growth, despite the fact that unemployment is extremely low and the labour market is tight, is a big issue." Domestically, bigger issues could loom for prime minister Shinzo Abe. His ruling bloc last week succeeded in pushing anti-conspiracy legislation through parliament. But - amid opposition party suspicions he used influence to unfairly help a friend set up a business - polls show his popularity slumping. Media reports suggest he may now launch a cabinet reshuffle. That too may draw attention to whether the massive stimulus of the Abenomics programme named after him is delivering. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "We're now years and years into his regime. while we are seeing signs of improvement, green shoots of recovery if you will, I don't think we've seen the dramatic improvement that he would have hoped for all those years ago." The IMF on Monday urging Japan to avoid withdrawing fiscal stimulus ... Adding that monetary policy should be loosened further - if more risks materialise.