Fears that Japan is sliding back into recession appear unfounded, after the government released unexpectedly strong Q4 economic data.

Many economists thought growth would stall in the last three months of 2002, but the official statistics show expansion of 2.4% year-on-year and 2% over Q3, driven by a 4.5% increase in exports, higher capital investment and rising consumer expenditure.

This makes Q4 the fourth consecutive quarter of growth. For 2002 as a whole, the economy expanded 0.3%.

However, hopes are not high for 2003, with signs that household expenditure is falling and unemployment rising. The government has predicted 0.2% contraction (or 0.6% growth in real terms) for the financial year commencing April 1.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff