Japan economy posts longest expansion in over a decade

japanTOKYO: Japan’s economy grew 1.0%  in the April-June period, notching up its sixth straight quarter of growth and its longest economic expansion in over a decade, government data showed Monday.

The growth in Japan’s GDP — 4.0 percent at an annualised rate — blew past market expectations for a 0.6% rise, and was well up from a 0.4% expansion in the first quarter, according to figures from the Cabinet Office.

The better-than-expected figure came on the back of robust domestic demand and capital spending, which offset a decline in exports.

Private consumption picked up 0.9% in the second quarter — individual spending accounts for more than a half of Japan’s GDP.

The world’s number three economy has been picking up steam, with investments linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also giving growth a boost. The labour market is tight and business confidence is high.

Consumer spending had remained tepid, however, and efforts to lift inflation have fallen flat despite years of aggressive monetary easing by Japan’s central bank.

The latest reading nonetheless means Japan’s economy has had its best string of gains since 2006, during the tenure of popular former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Still, Monday’s figures are good news for the current prime minister Shinzo Abe — whose brief and underwhelming first term as Japan’s premier came directly after Koizumi.

A string of short-term leaders followed before Abe swept back to power in late 2012 on a pledge to reignite Japan’s once-booming economy with a plan dubbed Abenomics.

The scheme — a mix of huge monetary easing, government spending and reforms to the economy — stoked a stock market rally and fattened corporate profits.

Japan has been struggling to defeat years of deflation and slow growth that followed the collapse of an equity and property market bubble in the early nineties.