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Per capita consumption of rice in Japan edged up 0.4 percent in April from a year earlier to 5.21 kg for the first increase in 49 months, the Food Agency said Monday.

The agency attributed the rise to favorable weather conditions compared with April 1999, which prompted families to dine at restaurants more often.

The agency believes the gain indicates that the recent downtrend in rice consumption has ended.

Consumption of rice has been flagging since April 1996 as consumers took to more diversified foodstuffs.

Breaking down the April tally, consumption at farm households decreased 2.5 percent to 6.5 kg while that at other households rose 0.9 percent to 5.09 kg, the agency said.