The government downgraded its key assessment of Japan's economy on Thursday, saying it was in a "severe situation" as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc domestically and globally.

In its monthly report for March, the Cabinet Office did not use the expression "recovering" to describe the domestic economic situation for the first time in over six years.

"The Japanese economy is in a severe situation, extremely depressed by the novel coronavirus," it said, while revising down its views on seven of the 11 main categories including private consumption and business investment.