Japan lines up $120 bln stimulus boost

From recent political storms to real ones, Japan's economy has been in heavy weather.

A new rescue package could be on the way - in the shape of a 120 billion dollars government stimulus programme.

That, at least, is according to two government officials close to the matter.

They say the programme will this month be drafted into upcoming budgets.

The final figure, they add, could almost double when private sector and other spending is included.

Japan's economy slumped to its weakest performance in a year in the third quarter.

Caught in the crossfire of a US-China trade war, exports have slumped.

At home, already soft retail sales have weakened in the wake of a hike in the sales tax.

The prime minister, meanwhile, has been mired in allegations of election law violations.

Now this new package would be consistent with the policy of Abenomics - massive fiscal and monetary stimulus - named after him.

But critics point out that policy has done little to lift sluggish demand.

And is adding to a debt burden which - at more than twice the size of its 5 trillion dollar economy - is the heaviest in the industrialised world.

While others point out that - even with more money - actual spending would still be lower in the current year.

The new boost unlikely, they say, to provide much of an uplift.