• Kyodo

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The World Bank on Thursday substantially raised its 2003 economic growth projection for Japan to 1.9 percent from the 0.8 percent growth estimated in September.

But growth in the Japanese economy is expected to fall to 1.2 percent in 2004, the Washington-based institution said in a semiannual update on economic conditions in East Asia.

The substantial upward revision for 2003 was made after the Japanese economy posted 1.0 percent growth in the April-June period from the previous quarter, the highest since the 1.3 percent growth in the October-December 2000 term.

The World Bank meanwhile anticipates East Asian economies, excluding Japan, will grow at an average rate of 5.7 percent in 2004, aided by a brighter global outlook, improving domestic conditions and China’s continued strong growth.

The anticipated 2004 growth rate represents a rebound from 5.0 percent growth expected for 2003, when many of the region’s economies were hurt by the negative impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome and lingering uncertainty about the strength of the global economy, it said.

With the SARS crisis passing in a short period, East Asia is also getting a boost from stronger growth in Japan and the U.S. as well as healthier domestic conditions in regional economies, it said.

It said the challenge now for East Asia is to consolidate the cyclical recovery into sustained long-term growth.

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