Japan 3rd-qtr GDP down 3% amid virus emergency, slow car shipments

Nov 15 ,2021. 12 minutes ago – 09:43 KYODO NEWS

A woman wearing a face mask walks by a closed shop in the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka on Aug. 19, 2021, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

TOKYO – Japan’s economy in the July-September period shrank a real 0.8 percent from the previous quarter, or an annualized 3.0 percent, amid a COVID-19 state of emergency as well as slow car sales and exports due to global chip and parts shortages, government data showed Monday.

The nation saw the first decrease in two quarters in real gross domestic product, or the total value of goods and services produced in the country adjusted for inflation, following growth of 1.5 percent in the previous quarter, according to the preliminary data released by the Cabinet Office.

The GDP figure was worse than private-sector economists’ average projection of a 0.6 percent annualized contraction, with the government’s latest projection of a rebound to a pre-pandemic level by year-end from its worst slump on record last year becoming less likely.

Consumer spending fell 1.1 percent, down for the first time in two quarters, as expenditures on services including trips and dining out remained sluggish under the government’s months-long virus emergency, which was fully lifted nationwide on Oct. 1.

With the aim of curbing a coronavirus resurgence driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, the emergency targeted 21 out of Japan’s 47 prefectures at one point, requesting people to stay home and restaurants and bars to close early and to stop serving alcohol.

Household spending on vehicles was weak as automakers were forced to cut output due to limited chip and parts supplies since around the summer amid a worldwide semiconductor shortage and parts supply disruption resulting from virus infection surges in Southeast Asian nations.

The reduced auto production also led business investment and exports to decrease 3.8 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

In nominal terms, or unadjusted for price changes, the economy contracted 0.6 percent, or an annualized 2.5 percent, in the reporting quarter.

Revised GDP data is scheduled to be released on Dec. 8.