SIGHTS FOR SORE EYES

Japan, the economy the world forgot, might be coming back

A man smiles in front of an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo.
A man smiles in front of an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo.
Image: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
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Japan just hit two milestones it hasn’t seen in a while.

Most visibily, the Nikkei 225 index closed above the 20,000 level for the first time this century and is up more than 15% this year.

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But the country’s trade surplus has also returned, last seen in 2012 and at its highest level since 2011.

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Both occurrences are tied up in the Bank of Japan’s battle to stimulate the economy through a massive bond-buying program that’s pushing the yen to its weakest level in years.

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And while that’s been good for big multinational companies—Toyota is expecting record profits this year—consumers haven’t been as lucky.

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The weak yen saddles consumers with with higher costs on imported goods. So the trade surplus is the result of a puissant export sector overpowering shrinking demand for imports in an economy just stumbling out of a recession.

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