Japan economy steams ahead in fourth quarter


Tokyo (AFP)

Japan's economy is growing at a faster clip than initially estimated, the government said Thursday, as the world's third-biggest economy notched up its longest period of expansion since the "bubble" days of the 1980s.

Gross domestic product expanded 0.4 percent in the October-December period, the Cabinet Office said, a spectacular upwards revision from its initial estimate of 0.1-percent growth.

The figures also confirmed the eighth consecutive quarter of expansion, the longest run since the 1980s when the Japanese economy was the envy of the world.

Thursday's figure was also higher than market expectations of 0.2 percent growth compiled by Bloomberg News.

For the calendar year 2017, the economy grew 1.7 percent after a 0.9 percent in 2016.

Japan has enjoyed a period of largely export-driven growth, helped by a recovering global economy.

It has also got a shot in the arm from domestic demand spurred by infrastructure upgrades ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.

However, with wage growth and consumption persistently lukewarm, the economy is still battling to make a clear break from deflation.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who looks set to stay at the helm until 2023, has vowed to maintain a loose monetary policy given still weak inflation.

The latest figure will not likely to have any significant impact on the central bank's policy which is widely expected to be kept unchanged in the two-day board meeting through Friday, analysts said.