Campaigning for the House of Councillors election will officially kick off on Wednesday. We ask each party to show voters potent recipes for rejuvenating the economy and to conduct a profound debate.

The biggest issue is to make a judgment on Abenomics - the economic policy package carried out by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the past 3 1-2 years.

Abe emphasized the fruits of Abenomics during a recent stump speech, saying, Employment has increased by 1.1 million and the job availability ratio has hit its highest level in 24 years.

Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada struck back, saying: Abenomics has reached its limits. Most people cannot perceive an economic recovery.

The essence of the Abenomics economic policy package is to conduct the administrations growth strategy and raise the nations potential growth rate using the time afforded by the Bank of Japans bold monetary easing and the governments flexible fiscal stimulus measures.

There is no doubt that monetary easing and fiscal stimulus have resulted in a depreciation of the yen and strong share prices, helping companies to significantly improve their performance.

On the other hand, the economic policy package has not succeeded in getting companies to invest in plants and equipment, or in activating consumer spending. Consequently, Abes goal of creating a virtuous economic cycle is not even at the starting point.

Growth strategy is the key to the success of Abenomics, but the administration is still just halfway through implementing it.

The Liberal Democratic Party promised to rev up the Abenomics engine to the maximum in its campaign pledges for the upper house election. This includes measures such as boosting productivity by utilizing artificial intelligence and doubling the number of foreign visitors to Japan to 40 million by 2020.

The ruling party plans to increase the nations gross domestic product to 600 trillion yen (about $5 trillion), which would be the largest since World War II, and make the economic pie bigger.

However, there was almost no mention of how to utilize companies internal reserves and household savings to kick-start a virtuous economic cycle.

The LDP also failed to show concrete measures on deregulation, which is expected to draw out the potential of the private sector. The party only said it will force through ceaseless regulatory reform.

We have to say that these campaign pledges are not enough for a ruling party.

There are a lot of measures to be carried out, including easing regulations that hamper corporate participation in such growth sectors as farming and medical treatment, and also introducing a system whereby wages are not paid by the hour.

The LDP should present these measures for reinforcing Abenomics in campaign debates for the upcoming upper house election.

As a measure to boost consumer confidence, the LDPs coalition partner Komeito lists the issuance of premium gift certificates and travel vouchers in its campaign pledges.

Such a measure can serve as a temporary shot in the arm, but it would be difficult for them to boost personal consumption in a sustainable way. It is necessary to scrutinize their cost-effectiveness and pursue better fiscal policies.

In its campaign pledges, the DP put forth a policy of balancing redistribution and growth.

As investments in people, the major opposition party calls for raising the monthly salary for nursery school teachers by 50,000 yen and increasing pensions for low-pension recipients by up to 60,000 yen a year. As for wealthy people, the party proposes an income tax hike.

The DP thinks growth can be achieved if personal consumption is increased by boosting the redistribution policy and correcting the income gap.

However, too much emphasis on redistribution will lead to a handout policy. Only after growth is realized will it be possible to secure fiscal resources for redistribution.

Seeking to raise the income tax without much consideration would dampen peoples desire to work hard and come up with innovative ideas, thereby adversely affecting economic revitalization. We cannot ignore this concern.

The Japanese Communist Party, which is committed to full-fledged election cooperation with the DP, calls for abandoning the consumption tax increase instead of postponing it. The JCP also argues for halting cuts in social security spending, which has been ballooning amid an aging population, and shifting to increasing such expenditures.

For this reason, the JCP denounces tax incentives for research and development and the consolidated tax payment system, among others, as benefiting big businesses, and promises a sweeping review.

There is strong concern that the JCPs policy proposals will lower the international competitiveness of Japanese firms and eventually impede economic growth.

Postponement of the consumption tax hike was unavoidable in light of the harsh economic situation at home and abroad.

The fact that personal savings have been increasing amid sluggish consumption is attributed partly to peoples anxieties about the future of Japan, including the sustainability of the social security system.

To dispel these anxieties, it is indispensable to put state finances on a sound footing by overcoming the worst fiscal balance among advanced nations. The combined debt of the central and local governments tops 1 quadrillion yen.

Both the LDP and the DP say they will adhere to a target of achieving a primary balance surplus in fiscal 2020.

It is considered extremely difficult to achieve fiscal reconstruction while putting off a consumption tax hike. All the parties should present concrete policies for securing substitute fiscal resources and carrying out spending cuts.



LAS CRUCES - For many start-ups, funding their businesses stands as one of the key obstacles to getting their companies off the ground and moving forward. According to the SBA Office of Advocacy, small businesses seek financing for four primary reasons:

o Starting a business

o Purchasing inventory

o Expanding the business

o Strengthening the business

What approach to funding will best suit the intent and needs of your small business? Understanding what types of financing is available is a good first step in figuring that out.

There are two major categories of financing--debt and equity--and other options exist as well.

Debt Financing

This involves borrowing money that you must repay (usually with interest) over a period of time. Generally, some or all assets of your business will be used to secure the loans. To protect them from default on a loan, lenders commonly require borrowers to personally guarantee repayment (ie, to have a sufficient personal interest at stake).

Banks have been the major source of small business debt financing, but some have become more reluctant to offer long-term loans to smaller companies because of the risk involved. Fortunately, the Small Business Administration's SBA 7(a) program has helped fill the void by encouraging banks to issue long-term loans to small businesses unable to get financing on reasonable terms through conventional lending sources.

Equity Financing

With equity financing (or equity capital), a small business raises money by offering shares of ownership in the business. Investors' equity investments give them ownership stakes in the business and allow them to share in the company's profits.

Equity capital may come from a variety of sources--such as your own personal savings, your life insurance policy, family, friends, employees, customers, government grants, venture capitalists, or angel investors.

Equity investors will naturally expect to get a return on their investments. Some might also require that they have a hand in your company's decision-making.

Other Funding Options

These other financing and cost-sharing options also exist.

o Partnerships

o Joint ventures

o Alliances

o Crowdfunding

And you might also consider researching business incubators. While they typically don't offer cash, they do provide some combination of valuable support in the way of free or discounted administrative services, an affordable workspace, shared office equipment, and even management guidance.

If you're seeking funding to start or grow your small business, reach out to your local SCORE chapter for guidance. SCORE mentors have expertise in all aspects of business, and they can help guide you to resources that might best fit your financing needs. Also, check out the free Financing For Small Businesses e-learning course on the SBA website.



Audrey Woerter admits to not being a big fan of animals until 10 years ago. But that all changed when one of the three dogs she had inherited after marriage died.

"Molly drove us crazy. She shed everywhere. She barked constantly. She was such a hyper dog," Woerter remembered. But when the animal died, it was devastating. "We cried for days, just days. I had no idea how she really affected me until she was gone," the Greene woman said.

When Woerter has a change of heart, she really has a change of heart. The death led her to Petfinder, where she began her search for a new dog. Through Petfinder, she found how many dogs really needed homes. That, in turn, led to the founding of Every Dog's Dream Rescue Inc., a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, that works to find homes for animals that have been abused or neglected or can no longer by cared for by their owners.

Woerter even convinced her husband to convert their three-car garage to a private kennel to house dogs and cats.

"The best thing is that the animals need us just as much as we need them. A rescued dog shows so much love and compassion. They know they've been saved," she said.

Last year, Every Dog's Dream was successful in rescuing 600 abandoned animals and finding new owners for 505 of them. The adoptees included 84 cats and 161 kittens, as well as 67 dogs and 149 puppies. They also included 19 guinea pigs, four hamsters, 17 rabbits, two ferrets, one gerbil and, for good measure, one iguana.

The Petco store in Johnson City houses the organization's adoption center. The 53-year-old woman also provides care for dogs and cats in the kennel at her Greene home while they live out their lives or wait for new homes.

At the center, some 50 volunteers help her with the daily grind of walking dogs, washing walls and windows, mopping floors, doing laundry, and providing fresh water, blankets and toys for the animals.

In addition, Woerter has a network of 15 to 18 "foster homes" that care for and house animals until new owners come forward.

"We're all in it for the same reason, to save animals and find them good homes," she said.

The work has meant some sacrifices. While Petco donates food and kitty litter, and volunteer fundraisers cover part of the costs of vet bills, supplies and food, Woerter had to dig into her personal savings last year to cover higher-than-normal medical bills. And she's on the job 24/7.

"It's a love-hate thing," she said. "There are days you wake up and think, 'Oh My God, I just want to sleep in today,' but the reward is the way the animals appreciate us."

Some of the rescued animals come from out-of-state shelters. Others are turned in from elderly persons who have to move into assisted-care living or nursing homes and can't keep their pets. The center will receive calls from landlords when tenants leave behind pets. Others are surrendered because owners can't afford their care or medical bills.

Every animal that comes in is vaccinated and, if old enough, spayed and neutered, Woerter said. Volunteers, notably students from SUNY Broome Community College, socialize the puppies and lead them in basic training activities.

One thing Woerter stresses is that Every Dog's Dream euthanizes animals only when veterinarian states an animal is too sick to be saved, or an animal is extremely aggressive toward people and other animals. "We don't euthanize for space. We don't euthanize healthy, social animals," she said.

People apply to adopt animals by contacting the adoption center. Every Dog's Dream also advertises on a Facebook page and is known to local veterinarians who make referrals.

The adoption process involves checking references and, in the case of dogs, visiting a residence to make sure it best meets an animal's need. Every Dog's Dream has a return rate of only 1 percent.

Woerter is totally dedicated to her work, said Carla Simpson, a volunteer at the center. "I volunteered at another shelter locally and didn't feel welcome. Here I feel welcome. Everyone is working together," Simpson said.



Keonna and Kaylas business venture actuallystarted online when the sistersbegan selling hair products via their website in March 2015 while they were job hunting. Atthe urging of their mother, they decided to open and brick and mortar business. The Davises used money they earned from their online business along with personal savings and matching funds from their parents to open the storefront location.

Even though the siblings had no business experience, they went ahead with their idea and havent looked back since. Now they are pulling in customers and media attentionafter doing a wealth ofresearch on the ins and outs of running your own business, from bookkeeping to supply negotiations. They also attended as many hair care industry events asthey could toget enhance their product knowledge and get a better understanding of their competition.

And if youre wondering, the sistershave different preferences when it comes to their personal hairstyles:Keonna is natural and Kayla likes weave and extensions. Check out ourchat with the budding entrepreneursbelow.

MadameNoire (MN): Why did you want to open a beauty supply store?

Keonna Davis: Because we were unable to find employment and our online business was generating a small local buzz so we felt the timing was right to move forward with a storefront.

MN: Did your age cause any special challenges?

Kayla Davis: Yes, we were not taken seriously when contacting distributors and trying to find a storefront, but we overcame all of those challenges.