TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s economy has stopped weakening and should show signs of recovery by midyear, the newly appointed central bank governor said Thursday, as weaker-than-expected retail sales for February underscored the challenge he faces in restoring consumer confidence. “The bank currently assesses that the economy has stopped weakening,” Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda told lawmakers in presenting the bank’s semiannual report. But he said there was still “a high degree of uncertainty” about the world’s third-largest economy because of the crisis in Europe, the tenuous state of the U.S. recovery and often testy relations with China. Kuroda has pledged to work with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government in achieving a 2 percent inflation target, preferably within two years, and ending years of growth-inhibiting deflation. However, the success of that program will hinge on ensuring that domestic demand is strong enough to spur investment and hiring by companies that are sitting on huge cash reserves. It also requires moves by the government to cap the country’s fast rising public debt — the largest among advanced industrial nations — and reassure markets that Japan finances will remain sound, Kuroda stressed. “To avoid an increase in interest rates on the back… Read full this story
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