Japan's economy contracted by a 15.2 per cent annual pace in the first quarter — its sharpest drop on record — as exports plunged, companies slashed production and families cut back on spending, the government said on Wednesday.
The drop in gross domestic product (GDP) was the steepest since 1955. Compared to the previous quarter, GDP fell 4 per cent. That's the fourth straight quarter that the economy shrank.
But the outlook is hopeful. Economists say the economy is most likely to past the worst, and some predicted it would grow again in the April-June quarter amid signs of stimulus steps by the government.
“I think the economy has passed the bottom and the recovery has begun in the current quarter,” said Richard Jerram, chief economist at Macquarie Capital Securities in Tokyo.
The latest results were worse than other major economies. The euro zone logged a 2.5 per cent quarterly decline, and the US retreated 1.6 per cent.