• Kyodo

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The government kept its economic assessment for September, released Thursday, unchanged for the third straight month, saying activity was continuing to show signs of “picking up” from the slump triggered by the novel coronavirus.

Upticks in exports and production are making up for a slowing recovery in consumption, the Cabinet Office said in its latest monthly report.

“The Japanese economy is still in a severe situation due to the novel coronavirus,” but has been “showing movements of picking up recently,” it said, repeating the wording used in the July and August assessments.

The government downgraded its evaluations of private consumption for the first time since April, when it declared a state of emergency over the spread of the virus.

The report said private consumption was “picking up,” the same expression used in August, but added that “weakness can be seen in some sectors.”

A government official said a “standstill” was seen in consumer spending, especially in travel and food services, following a resurgence in virus infections.

But the official said the recovery trend continued, with a large tourist turnout during the country’s four-day weekend through Tuesday being the latest example of recovering economic activities.

Among the other 10 major items in the assessment, business investment was also downgraded, while four components including exports and industrial production were upgraded.

The report said business investment was “showing weakness,” while exports were “picking up” and production “shows movements of picking up.” The official said auto-related exports showed a significant rebound, supported by improvements in overseas economies.

The government also upgraded its assessment of the employment situation, saying there were “steady movements in some components such as the number of employees, while weakness remains.”

The government’s overall evaluation was upgraded both in June and July, as social and economic activities across the country slowly revived after the lifting of the state of emergency.

The monthly report predicted that the recovery would continue in the short term with an improvement in overseas economies and resumption of domestic socioeconomic activities.

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