TOKYO — Japan’s economy rebounded in the third quarter of the year, with GDP showing positive growth for the first time since a massive earthquake and tsunami rocked the country last March.
According to the first preliminary figures released by Japan’s cabinet office, gross domestic product grew by 1.5 percent compared to the previous quarter. GDP for the period of July to September rose 6 percent on an annualized basis.
The upswing didn’t come as a surprise to economists, who were expecting positive growth in the third and fourth quarters of the year due to the reconstruction of Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region, which was ravaged by the natural disaster.
Takahiro Sekido, chief economist for Japan at Credit Agricole, said that his firm’s most recent forecast showed GDP growing 1.9 percent in comparison with the previous quarter, due to strong exports.
“The main reason for the difference in our forecast and the actual figure was the trade side,” Sekido said. “Trade was much weaker than my expectations, and also private consumption was a bit weaker. But both were still very positive.”
Sekido said that the biggest disappointment in the figures for the quarter came from public sector expenditure. A reconstruction plan for the disaster area, expected in September, has yet to be finalized.
“We have to see this very seriously,” Sekido said of the delay. “The government needs to move this plan forward very quickly.”
Credit Agricole is expecting a seasonal increase of about 1 percent in fourth-quarter GDP, due to uncertainty about exports because of the recent flooding in Thailand. The firm is expecting a year-on-year drop of 0.5 percent in total GDP for 2011, and growth of 2.5 percent in 2012.