• The Associated Press

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The economy is logging its second-longest expansion since the end of World War II and is on track to grow by more than 2 percent this year, Financial Services Minister Kaoru Yosano said Sunday.

The upward trend should continue until summer 2007, making the current growth streak the longest in postwar history, Yosano said.

His remarks are the latest in a stream of optimistic forecasts about the recovery.

The economy has suffered stagnation for about 15 years since the late 1980s. Its turnaround promises more balanced growth for the world economy, which has relied in recent years on breakneck consumption in the U.S.

But now Japan is enjoying a rebound on booming exports and rising consumer spending. Unemployment has been falling, the stock market has rocketed to near six-year highs, and deflation has been reversed, ending a spiral of tumbling prices that have eroded corporate earnings and workers’ paychecks.

The economy has now been expanding for 51 months, the same span as the so-called bubble era of the 1980s and 90s, Yosano said.

The only longer postwar expansion, 57 months, came after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Yosano said the current trend of growth will continue until summer 2007, and growth this year should exceed expectations.