Another Kick for Japan's Economy

In the R&D sector, spending measures have refurbished university labs, bought supercomputers, and sped up the completion of major facilities such as the Super Photon Ring 8-giga-electron-volt synchrotron, which came on line a year early last fall. Any new money would be in addition to the 3 trillion yen ($23.3 billion), not counting staff salaries, budgeted for R&D this year. The government is still finalizing details of the latest package, but some researchers already have their hopes up. Sakue Yamada, a director at the High-Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, says his institute is hoping for a new building so researchers from the former Institute for Nuclear Studies of the University of Tokyo, which was merged into KEK last year, can move to KEK's campus.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democratic Party, part of the coalition that is putting together the stimulus package, says the plan is to move a supplementary budget bill through the Diet in time for Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's trip to Birmingham, U.K., for the annual summit of the eight major industrialized countries in mid-May. The package is at least partly intended to deflect criticism from the U.S. and Europe that Japan isn't doing enough to stimulate its economy.