Japan's January factory output fell at the fastest pace since May 2020, government data showed on Thursday, as a production downturn in motor vehicles adds to concerns about the fragility of an economy that slipped into recession late last year.

Industrial output fell 7.5% in January from the previous month, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. It was slightly worse than the median market forecast for a 7.3% drop, with output sliding in 14 of the 15 industries surveyed by METI.

The ministry also downgraded its assessment of industrial output for the first time since July last year, laying bare the challenges for the economy as it tries to recover from a recession at the end of last year.