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Gov't keeps view on Japan economy, warns of slow recovery in exports

Commuters wearing face masks walk during rush hour at Shinagawa Station on March 22, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government on Tuesday retained its monthly economic assessment, saying weakness has been seen in some sectors as consumption remains sluggish due to the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    A recovery in Japanese exports has been slowing, the Cabinet Office also said in the report, downgrading its view on the component for the first time in 10 months. Meanwhile, its views on business sentiment as well as the trend of bankruptcies were lifted amid signs of improvement.

    "The Japanese economy shows weakness in some components" and remains in a "severe situation due to the coronavirus pandemic" although it continues to show signs of picking up, the office said in its overall assessment.

    Last month, it downwardly revised the assessment for the first time since April last year during a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas over the pandemic, which led authorities to demand people refrain from nonessential outings and restaurants and bars close early.

    The emergency, declared in January, was fully lifted on Sunday.

    Among components, the latest report continued describing private consumption as being "in a weak tone recently."

    Exports are "increasing at a slower pace recently," it said. The lower assessment is due largely to weaker growth in auto exports to the United States, an official of the Cabinet Office said.

    As for how companies view the current business conditions, the government upgraded the category for the first time in eight months, citing "movements of picking up." But it added that "some severe aspects remain."

    On bankruptcies, which had been on the rise due to the pandemic, the report said the number is now "decreasing," in the first upward revision in three months.

    Looking forward, the government said Japan's economy is expected to recover on a pickup in overseas economies. But it also said the outlook largely depends on development in the pandemic.

    "The emergency was lifted but I don't think it means that the situation over the virus has changed much. I believe people will remain cautious and refrain from going out to some extent," the official said.

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