The annualized 0.5 percent growth in gross domestic product for the October-December quarter confirms that the Japanese economy is continuing on an extended track of moderate growth. But the GDP’s growth for eighth consecutive quarters — the longest streak in the 28 years since the bubble boom of the late 1980s — does not warrant unguarded optimism over the path ahead. The economy’s growth is heavily reliant on overseas demand — whose prospects have been clouded by the turmoil in financial markets in recent weeks. What’s needed are greater efforts to pursue a more domestic demand-driven growth while the economy remains in a good shape.

The uninterrupted two-year run of GDP growth is the longest since the economy expanded 12 quarters in a row between 1986 and 1989 just as it was heading toward the peak of the asset-inflated bubble boom. The current cycle of expansion is deemed to have lasted 61 months — since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to the government’s helm in December 2012 — to be counted as the second-longest boom cycle in the postwar period. The economy expanded 1.6 percent in real terms in 2017 for the sixth straight annual growth, while GDP in nominal terms rose 1.4 percent to a record ¥546 trillion.

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