Japan’s economy is the first to be hit with a recession as it wrestles with the fall out from the coronavirus. The world’s third-largest economy contracted by 0.9 per cent in the first quarter. This is Japan’s first recession since 2015.

The drop in gross domestic product followed a 1.9-per cent decline in the fourth quarter of 2019 as a tax hike and typhoons hit Japan hard — even before the pandemic shut down much of the economy.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Some analysts predicted the Japanese economy would suffer worse as the effects of the coronavirus become clear.

“We expect the worst is yet to come, with the state of emergency in Japan and the severity of the pandemic among Western nations continuing to derail the Japanese economy,” said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at SuMi TRUST.

But the first-quarter result was slightly better than economists had forecast, with expectations for a 1.1-per cent decline.

Japan has been hit less hard than most advanced economies by the coronavirus, with just over 16,000 cases in the whole country and around 750 deaths.

However, authorities were concerned there could be an explosive spike — especially in the densely populated capital Tokyo — and urged people to stay indoors and businesses to shut down.


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