TOKYO — Japan’s economy recovered its pre-pandemic size in the April-June quarter with strong consumer spending after pandemic-related movement restrictions were lifted.
The world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China expanded 0.5% in the three months to June from the previous quarter. That compares with a flat reading in the previous quarter and consensus forecasts for a 0.6% expansion.
Adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, Japan’s economy in the latest quarter was bigger than in the final quarter of 2019, the first time that has happened since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. The economy expanded 2.2% on an annualized basis, which reflects what would happen if the second-quarter pace continued for a full year.
Private consumption increased 1.1% from the previous quarter. The number of COVID-19 infections declined during the period, encouraging consumers to return to shops and restaurants.
Economists say private consumption will likely remain a growth driver for the Japanese economy in the current July-September period.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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