The government tentatively acknowledged Wednesday that the economy expanded for 37 months in a row through April 2012, weathering the devastating March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster and the ensuing nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.
A panel of economists and experts for the Cabinet Office also said the economy may have started to shrink since May last year as lingering concerns over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and the stronger yen weighed on exports, but may have bottomed out last November.
The economy has been expanding recently on the back of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies dubbed “Abenomics” centering on drastic monetary easing and large-scale public works projects, which have improved business and consumer sentiment. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party took power in December after ousting the Democratic Party of Japan.
The economy plunged after the 2008 global financial crisis, but began to pick up from April 2009 as a rebound in the world economy and the government’s economic stimulus package helped boost consumption and exports.
The crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered power supply shortages and rapidly depressed economic activity at home. But reconstruction work and other policy steps bolstered the economy and the expansion lasted through April 2012, the panel said.
The 37-month expansion was the sixth-longest since the war, but analysts say many people did not benefit from it, given that wages did not grow.