The leaders of Japan’s four most powerful business groups said Monday that Japan’s economy will continue to be sluggish in fiscal 2002, predicting an annual growth rate of between 0.5 percent and a contraction of 1 percent.

“I expect the nation’s economy may deteriorate further than last year,” said Nobuo Yamaguchi, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, predicting negative growth between 0.5 percent and 1 percent.

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