GDP up 1.6% in January-March period

The economy grew 1.6 percent in real terms in the January-March period from the previous three-month period, bringing real growth in gross domestic product during fiscal 1996 to a strong 3 percent, according to a preliminary government report released June 13.

GDP growth for the past fiscal year exceeded the government’s earlier prediction for growth by 0.5 point and marked the largest jump in six years, the Economic Planning Agency said. GDP, which measures total annual output of goods and services, is an index of the scale of a nation’s economy.

Of the 1.6 percent growth for the reporting quarter, 1.5 percent was attributed to domestic demand and 0.1 percent to external demand.

During the three-month period spanning January through March, net exports of goods and services amounted to 3.46 trillion yen, up 10.3 percent from the previous quarter, according to the report. The annualized growth rate for the reporting quarter was 6.6 percent.

Speaking at a news conference, EPA Vice Minister Shimpei Nukaya played down the period’s strong results, saying that it reflects the buying spree which took place before April’s consumption tax hike as well as unusually strong results of a family income and expenditure survey.