Japan's economy sees biggest decline since 1974

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Official figures show that Japan's economy has shrunk by 3.3% in the last quarter of 2008—or an annualized 12.7%, the fastest decline since 1974, when the economy contracted by 3.4% in a quarter. The decline in Japan has been sharper than in either Europe or North America, mostly because global demand for the country's products, such as automobiles and electronics, has fallen.

The contraction was also larger than the 3.1% decline that was predicted by economists, the worst decline of any major economic power in the same quarter.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso

In comparison, the Eurozone GDP contracted 1.5% in the same quarter, and the United States GDP shrank by an annualized 3.8%.

"The data showed a severe picture of the Japanese economy and highlighted the weakness in exports. The January-March quarter is likely to show another minus figure [annualized] in double digits or something close to double digits," said the chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute, Takeshi Minami.

There have been reports that Japanese prime minister Taro Aso is considering launching a 20 trillion yen (approximately US$218 billion) stimulus plan in response to the recession, but he is hindered by a divided parliament, and an approval rating which concurrently fell below ten percent.


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