The economy shrank by an annualized 3.3 percent in the April-June quarter of fiscal 1998 over the previous quarter, falling for the third straight quarter — its worst showing since World War II, the Economic Planning Agency announced Friday.

It was the first time that EPA statistics on the real-term growth rate of the gross domestic product posted negative figures for three consecutive quarters since the agency began compiling the data in 1955, the agency said.

In its quarterly estimate for the nation’s economic growth in the April-June period, the EPA calculated that the GDP growth rate came to minus 0.8 percent in real terms, or an annualized minus 3.3 percent, compared with the January-March quarter.

EPA chief Taichi Sakaiya told a news conference that the figures for the April-June quarter were “considerably bad.”

“It is regrettable to mention this minus 0.8 figure, even if a dismal growth rate for the quarter was expected,” he said. “I must say that under the current economic situation, 1.9 percent growth for fiscal 1998 as we estimated can be hardly achieved.”

To attain 1.9 percent growth, the economy needs to grow by an annualized 10.3 percent in each of the remaining three quarters until March 1999, EPA officials said. Sakaiya thus expressed concern that the agency will have to revise the current estimate sometime soon.

According to the EPA statistics, private consumption fell 0.8 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous one. Investment in equipment by private-sector firms fell to minus 5.5 percent compared with the previous minus 5.2 percent, the statistics show. Housing investment dropped to minus 1 percent from the previous quarter’s 1.7 percent, the statistics show.

As for foreign trade, exports, at minus 0.4 percent, fell for the second straight quarter, while imports, at minus 6.8 percent, were down for five quarters in a row, according to the statistics.

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