The past year has been grim for the world's third-largest economy, with Japan suffering due to the U.S.-China trade conflict. The dispute undermined a notable part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic vision - the development of what some experts now consider an overly symbiotic trade connection with the People's Republic. However, the latest quarterly figure for Japan's gross domestic product showed an unexpected surge.
According to Reuters, the Cabinet Office of Japan confirmed annualized domestic GDP growth of 2.1 per cent in 2019's first quarter. This outpaces the 1.6 per cent growth from Q4 2018 and also defied the Q1 2019 expectations of many economists, many of whom predicted a contraction of 0.2 per cent.
Despite its rise, there's considerable nuance behind the Q1 GDP percentage that has experts wary: The New York Times pointed out that imports fell by quite a bit - much more than exports, creating a trade surplus that partially fueled the GDP surge. Private consumption also fell in Q1.
Takuji Okubo, chief economist for research firm Japan Macro Advisors, told the NYT, "As weak imports should signify weak domestic demand, it is definitely not a reason to rejoice."
Abe's administration believes strongly in the PM's economic strategy, viewing the current growth as proof that things will turn out well in the long run. Whether Japanese voters feel the same way won't be known until July, when elections for the Japan legislature's upper house take place.