• Kyodo


The Finance Ministry on Wednesday upgraded its overall assessment of regional economies for the second consecutive quarter, in another indication that the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic is waning.

Regional economies are “showing signs of picking up,” the October report said, with the evaluation revised upward from the July assessment that noted they have “recently stopped worsening” and that “some signs of picking up can be seen in parts.”

Tempering the upgrade, however, the ministry repeated an expression used in the July report, assessing that the economies “remain in a severe situation.”

All of the ministry’s 11 regional bureaus also upgraded their independent assessments for the second straight quarter.

The country gradually emerged from the heavy economic damage inflicted from April through May by a state of emergency declared amid the virus outbreak, leading the ministry to issue an upgrade, the first since October 2017, in July.

The coronavirus-linked contraction in activity led to a downgrade in April.

By component for the overall assessment in October, consumer spending is picking up as social and economic activities have resumed, the latest report said.

The ministry pointed to the Go To campaigns, under which the government covers part of the costs for domestic travel and dining out to encourage consumption and boost virus-hit industries, as a contributing factor.

Production is also recovering, driven by the auto industry, the report said, adding that industrial output in the Tokai region, home to Toyota Motor Corp., is “steadily picking up.”

Employment levels continued to show some weakness because of the pandemic, although the number of people actively in work indicates firmness, the ministry said.

However, the availability of jobs has worsened as job-seekers returned in line with a resumption in economic activity, despite the number of job offers ending a decline.

In the April report, the ministry said the local economies were in an “extremely severe situation,” downgrading the overall assessment for the first time in more than seven years amid the virus emergency, under which people were requested to refrain from going out and nonessential businesses were asked to suspend operations.

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