TOKYO (dpa) – The Japanese economy recorded its first growth in three quarters, the government said Monday, taking the country out of a brief recession.
The economy expanded at an annualised rate of 2.2 per cent in the October-to-December period.
Japan fell into recession in the third quarter following a controversial increase in sales tax in April.
The bad economic news prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to postpone a second tax hike and call a snap a general election for December, which his party won convincingly.
The growth in the latest quarter was however worse than the 3.8-per-cent growth predicted in a poll of economists by the Nikkei business daily.
Private consumption, which makes up 60 per cent of the economy, rose 0.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter, while corporate investment edged up 0.1 per cent after falling 0.1 per cent in the July-to-September period, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report.
Exports climbed 2.7 per cent from the previous three-month period, compared with a 1.5-per-cent increase in the previous quarter, while imports grew 1.3 per cent.
Residential investment fell 1.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter, after plunging 10.3 per cent in the second quarter and 7.0 per cent in the July-to-September period.
The Japanese economy was “expected to recover on the back of healthy private-sector demand,” Economics Minister Akira Amari told a news conference.
The minister said the government expects private consumption to rebound soon, as wages have grown recently.
But the country’s monthly wages showed a drop of 1.4 per cent in December, marking the 18th straight month of falls despite improved corporate earnings, the Labour Ministry reported in early February.
Also Monday, the Cabinet Office also revised the gross domestic product figure for the July-to-September quarter to a contraction of 2.3 per cent, annualised, compared with a contraction of 1.9 per cent it estimated two months ago.