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TOKYO, Japan – Japan’s economy put in its best performance in three years during 2013, expanding by 1.6% as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth blitz rippled through the world’s number 3 economy.
But the annual figure was only modestly ahead of the expansion in 2012 and weaker-than-expected fourth quarter data was likely to stoke more concerns about keeping up the pace of growth as Japanese consumers get set for an April sales tax rise.
Fears that the rate increase will derail Abe’s growth drive, dubbed Abenomics, has stoked speculation that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) would be forced later this year to expand its already unprecedented monetary easing drive to counter a slowdown.
The programmed launched by the BoJ, which kicks off a two-day meeting on Monday, February 17, is a cornerstone of the premier’s bid to restore Japan’s fading status as an economic superpower.
The figures published Monday showed that, after leading G7 nations in the first half of the year, Japan’s economy expanded just 0.3% in the October-December quarter, less than the 0.7% expansion that economists had expected, according to a survey by the leading Nikkei business daily.
Japan’s economy grew 1.4% in 2012 and contracted 0.5% in 2011 as the country was hammered by a quake-tsunami disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis. – Rappler.com