January industrial output rose by record 5.3%

Japan’s industrial output in January rose by a record 5.3 percent from the previous month, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said in a preliminary report released Feb. 27.

The production index for mines and factories, which is compared against 100 in the 1990 base year, came to a seasonally adjusted 105.5, according to the report. A ministry official said production was up in all the manufacturing sectors, for the first time since November 1994.

Although the production index is expected to fall both in February and March, basically in reaction to the remarkable rise in January, he said the overall trend is moving upward. The shipment index in the reporting month increased 5.7 percent to 108.1, while the inventory index remained unchanged at 107.

Tsutomu Makino, vice minister for international trade and industry, told a news conference later in the day that the latest production figure turned out to be better than expected. “We cannot afford to be overly optimistic because economic performance has very much to do with the corporate mind,” he said. “But the latest production report has underpinned our view that the nation’s real economic performance has been steadily improving.”