Japan’s gross domestic product for the current fiscal year has been revised upward by several economic forecasters due to growing signs of an export-led recovery, according to reports released as of Thursday.

Preliminary statistics from the Finance Ministry show the nation’s customs-cleared trade surplus marked the third-straight month of year-on-year growth in May. Exports rose for the second straight month.

Ten leading research institutes forecast the rate of GDP growth in fiscal 2002 to range somewhere between a contraction of 0.6 percent and growth of 0.5 percent in real terms, representing an upward revision from March.

Of the 10 forecasters, six expect positive growth for the current year, although many believe the recovery will be sluggish.

A consensus view holds there will be no full-fledged recovery in fiscal 2002 for corporate capital investment, with all predicting large negative growth.

Many forecasters say consumer spending, which accounts for about 60 percent of GDP, is expected to remain firm.

But Mitsubishi Research Institute said consumer spending may weaken as companies accelerate restructuring efforts.

The long-term economic outlook remains weak, according to Nikko Salomon Smith Barney, as Japan is unlikely to make much progress on structural reforms.

Eight of the forecasters expect positive growth in fiscal 2003, with the rates of growth ranging between 0.4 percent and 1.8 percent.

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