Gloomy figures notwithstanding, the efforts of the government to kick-start the economy are beginning to produce some visible results. Although year-to-year economic growth was only 1.6% for the quarter ending in June, more than a third of the gain came in the area of public works. That is the result of the decision of the government to front-load such spending in the fiscal year that began this April. "The safety valve works," argues Jesper Koll, the chief economist for S.G. Warburg Securities (Japan) Inc. "There's clear evidence that fiscal policy is starting to help the economy."

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