Japan emerges from recession

TOKYO: Japan has emerged from its worst recession since the end of the second world war, recording its first quarter of growth for more than a year amid a rise in exports.

Japan’s fledgling recovery saw gross domestic product (GDP) rise at an annualised rate of 3.7 per cent from April to June, and by 0.9 per cent from the previous three months, the cabinet office said. Exports rose

6.3 per cent from

three months earlier, the first increase since the start of 2008 and the biggest gain since the second quarter of 2002.

The emergence of the world’s second-largest economy from recession follows last week’s

news that Germany and France — the eurozone’s two biggest economies — returned to growth

in the second quarter. Freefalling global demand for the consumer durables on which Japan’s economic

success was built — notably electronics and

cars — dragged it into a recession from which few believed it would emerge so quickly.

Guarded optimism in Japan is shared elsewhere. The US economy shrank at an annualised 1 per cent last quarter, its smallest contraction in a year, while the 0.1 per cent contraction seen

in the eurozone was

its best showing for more than a year. China’s

economy, helped by a GBP360 billion stimulus package, grew 7.9 per cent from a year earlier.

The figures bear out prime minister Taro Aso’s assurance that Japan would be one of the

first big economies to emerge from recession, though polls suggest they probably will not be enough to save his Liberal Democratic party from defeat in the general election this month.

Although parts of his JPY25tn (GBP160 billion) stimulus package were derided — in particular the cash handouts to all residents — those, with subsidies for fuel-efficient cars and green electrical appliances, have produced at least some short-term benefits.

Experts warn though that the recovery could fizzle out without improved demand at home, where falling wages and job fears have hit household spending.

Unemployment is at a six-year high of 5.4 per cent and could rise to a record 5.8 per cent next year.

Wages fell 1.7 per cent in the last quarter, while consumer spending rose 0.8 per cent.