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The annualized 2.2 percent growth of Japan’s gross domestic product for the October-December period — the first rise in three quarters — may indicate that the negative impact of the consumption tax hike last April is easing. Consumer spending, which accounts for 60 percent of GDP, rose 0.3 percent from the previous three months for the second quarterly increase in a row. Still, the economy’s upturn was far weaker than forecast by private-sector economists.

While exports grew 2.7 percent on the back of increased shipments to the United States and China, the pickup in personal consumption remains far from robust as net declines in wages continue with prices rising faster than pay raises. Although prevalent forecast points to the economy maintaining modest growth in the January-March quarter, a full-scale recovery will require a sharper increase in consumer spending.

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