A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
The economy contracted by 0.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period, compared with growth of 0.1 per cent at the end of 2017, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday.
Capital expenditure fell 0.1 percent, down for the first time in six quarters, suggesting corporate investment is not as strong as many economists had forecast.
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However, a breakdown of the data shows export growth is losing momentum, expanding 0.6 percent in the first quarter after growth of 2.2 percent expansion in the fourth quarter.
It was the first decline in nine quarters, snapping the longest stretch of continued expansion since the late 1980s.
The world's third-largest economy has slid into reverse for the first time in two years as a result of sluggish consumption and seasonal factors.
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On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, GDP was down 0.6% - again missing forecasts for a decline of 0.1% following the downwardly revised 0.6% gain in the previous three months.
Capital investment was down 0.1 percent.
The aim has been to keep credit cheap and push prices higher to compel businesses and consumers to spend more. The median estimate was for consumer spending to remain unchanged.
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The Cupboard Workplace mentioned Wednesday Japan's gross home product - the worth of a nation's items and companies - dipped on-quarter 0.2 p.c. But his government is contending with scandals over cronyism and sexual harassment that have set off speculation he may be replaced as head of the ruling Liberal Democrats in their next party election.