Jumpstarting Japan's Economy

After months of debate, Japan's leaders are finally answering the global economy's 911 call, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen.

The Japanese parliament has begun passing bills that could save the country's failing banks and restart its faltering economy.

On its way to final approval this week is money for weak banks that were so short of cash they stopped making loans and sent bankruptcies soaring.

But the taxpayers have to pay, and it's a lot.

To shore up the weak banks, it will cost an estimated $210 billion. Add to that Monday's approval to spend $151 billion rescuing bankrupt banks, and huge sums already set aside to protect depositors.

In total, more than half a trillion dollars will be spent, which is twice what America spent on its failed savings and loans, and as much as the gross domestic product for countries like Australia and Canada.

But some critics say Japan is still keeping its markets closed and payrolls over-stuffed to maintain lifetime employment, buying time until its export sales take off.

"They're not going to be the engine of growth," says Craig Chudler of Solomon Smith Barney. "They're waiting for someone else to be the engine of growth, whether it's the U.S., Europe, or Asia, and they will be the leach of the world as they have been for a very long time and they'll export to those economies."