Government spending and a weaker yen can't conceal that Japan's manufacturers are still forsaking their country's shrinking population, high costs and regulatory barriers in favor of faster-growing, younger economies in Asia.
The prospect of a weakening yen - the currency has fallen roughly 20 percent against the dollar since December - sapping their purchasing power is only encouraging them to speed up investments overseas.
"The incentives to invest domestically are underwhelming," said Kenneth S. Courtis, a former Goldman Sachs Asia vice-chairman who now heads Starfort Investments in Hong Kong.
"The long-term demographics, which are very problematic, and the threat that your firepower is going to be diminished with the value of the yen, are driving investment increasingly abroad."
"Second arrow" misses target
Abe returned to power for a rare second term pledging to revive Japan and banish deflation with a radical economic policy - quickly dubbed "Abenomics" - comprising "Three Arrows" of drastic monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and growth-generating structural reform.
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Whether or not "Abenomics" works at home, it's already helping soften the blow of slowing growth and a receding tide of cheap dollars as investors pull funds out of Asia to bet on recovery in the United States and Europe.
Foreign investors have pulled at least $7.7 billion from stock markets in Asia outside Japan and China since May, according to data from Nomura and Jefferies.
Japanese direct investment in Southeast Asia in the first half, meanwhile, nearly tripled to almost $6 billion. Japanese banks have lent a record amount into the region, and Japanese corporate acquisitions in Southeast Asia have already set a record this year.
Japan's government has been encouraging regional investment to build ties and secure resources. Foreign investment also helps weaken the yen, boosting the exporters profits.
But increased profits only help Japan's economy if companies use them to boost investment and wages. "To defeat deflation, we need a negative corporate savings rate," said Takuji Aida, chief economist at Societe Generale Securities in Tokyo. "We need companies conducting capital expenditure."
Japanese companies socked away roughly $144 billion in cash between June 2012 and June this year, according to the Bank of Japan, bringing their total cash pile to $2.24 trillion.
That means that for every yen they earned in additional net income, three-quarters of it went into the bank. And existing factories are depreciating faster than companies are investing to replace them, according to HSBC.
(Read more: Will Japan's elderly get burned by 'Abenomics'?)
That's not a new phenomenon, nor is the rush to invest abroad. Japan's manufacturers have been shifting to Southeast Asia for 30 years, a trend driven lately by efforts to cut their exposure to rising costs and anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Investment into China fell 31 percent in the first half, according to Jetro.
Japan's notoriously conservative corporate boards can take years to make big investment decisions. Mazda's $262 million Thai expansion plan, announced in January, for example, is part of a strategy adopted in early 2012, before Abe became prime minister, to nearly triple sales in Southeast Asia.
Some economists say it could thus be years before investments reflect the impact of Abenomics. Others say the yen, which has traded around 95 to 100 to the dollar over the past three months, hasn't weakened enough yet.
"Japanese companies are active investors overseas now because the yen is still too strong," said Aida at Societe Generale. "The yen needs to weaken further, maybe to 110 per dollar, which could happen next year."
But as former manufacturing powerhouses like Britain and the United States have learned, once manufacturing shifts overseas a weak currency isn't enough to bring it back.
Abe's government is thus reportedly planning to unveil as much as 500 billion yen ($5.07 billion) in tax breaks for capital expenditure on Oct. 1, when Abe is also expected to announced 1.4 trillion yen in corporate tax cuts designed to help offset the impact of a planned sales tax increase.
Japan's own "hollowing out" has already pushed at least 18 percent of all production outside Japan, according to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, helping trim manufacturing's share of GDP to 19 percent from 27 percent in 1983.