TOKYO - Japan's economy in the April-June period grew a real 0.5 percent from the previous quarter, or an annualized 2.2 percent, on the back of recovering private consumption following the removal of coronavirus restrictions in March, government data showed Monday.
Real gross domestic product, the total value of goods and services produced in a country adjusted for inflation, expanded for the third consecutive quarter following nearly flat growth in the January-March quarter, according to the preliminary report released by the Cabinet Office.
Private consumption, which accounts for more than half of the country's GDP, rose 1.1 percent, increasing for the third straight quarter, as more people dined out and traveled after Japan lifted COVID-19 restrictions in late March in all areas covered, including Tokyo and Osaka, amid a downward trend in the number of new infections.
Capital investment, another key pillar of domestic demand, grew 1.4 percent, following a 0.3 percent contraction in the previous quarter, propelled by software investment, according to the data.
Annualized real GDP in the latest quarter totaled 542 trillion yen ($4.1 trillion), exceeding the 540 trillion yen logged in the October-December period of 2019 before the pandemic hit Japan Despite the third consecutive quarterly increase in real GDP, some economists said the outlook remains unclear due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and higher prices that could dampen consumer spending.
Saisuke Sakai, senior economist at Mizuho Research & Technologies, pointed out that GDP in the reporting period was still lower than the average of the four quarters in 2019, as personal spending in its last quarter was dented by a consumption tax hike in October that year.
"While Japan's economy has seen positive growth, it is still halfway through in its recovery," Sakai said, adding a resurgence of coronavirus infections could discourage people from going out even amid an absence of restrictions, hitting personal consumption in the next quarter.
Public investment also rose 0.9 percent in real terms from a decrease of 3.2 percent in the previous quarter.
Exports and imports increased 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
Daishiro Yamagiwa, minister in charge of economic revitalization, said the preliminary GDP report showed the world's third-largest economy is gradually recovering.
"We would like to put the Japanese economy on a higher growth path" toward a virtuous cycle of sustainable growth led by private sector demand and the distribution of wealth, Yamagiwa said in a statement.
In nominal terms, unadjusted for price changes, Japan's economy grew 0.3 percent, or an annualized 1.1 percent, the data showed.
While imported energy and food prices remain high amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many companies are unable to fully pass on their higher costs to retail prices, experts said.
Sakai added it is necessary to keep a close eye on how economic slowdowns overseas would affect Japan's growth in the coming quarters.