• Kyodo

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The economy is recovering moderately, the government said in its report for October, reinforcing the view that what would be Japan’s second-longest postwar expansion phase is still in place.

But the government cut its overall view on imports for the first time since August 2015, saying the recent pick-up is coming to a standstill. The downgrade came after sluggish smartphone imports from China, particularly Apple Inc.’s latest iPhone 8.

“The Japanese economy is on a moderate recovery,” the Cabinet Office said Wednesday, using the same wording for the fifth month straight.

The current period of expansion, which began in December 2012, is likely to have entered its 59th month, surpassing the 57-month Izanagi boom between 1965 and 1970.

The Cabinet Office retroactively determines the length of an economic boom based on an examination by a panel of experts. In postwar Japan, the economy went through its longest expansion, which lasted 73 months, between 2002 and 2008.

In the monthly report released days after the big election win for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, the office maintained its assessments for other major components of the economy.

Private consumption, accounting for 60 percent of gross domestic product, is “picking up moderately,” while business investment, industrial output and exports are “picking up,” according to the report.

Still, uncertainty remains over the outlook.

“Attention should be given to the uncertainty in overseas economies and the effects of fluctuations in financial and capital markets,” the report said.

The potential economic impact of recent scandals hitting the country’s manufacturing sector — one related to Kobe Steel Ltd.’s quality control and the other concerning Nissan Motor Co.’s inspection procedures — will also come into focus.

“We do not know if there will be any impact at this point so we will keep close tabs on developments,” a Cabinet Office official said.

For the global economy, the government maintained its assessment that it has been “moderately recovering,” using the same expression for the seventh consecutive month.

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