Japan came out of a recession last year after two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
In the three months to 31 December 2014, Japan grew by 0.6%, an annualised rate of 2.2%, following two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. However, the figures still undershot analysts' estimates of around 3.7%. Private consumption grew by 0.3% in the fourth quarter, less than the expected 0.7%, while exports grew by 2.7%. The main hindrance to growth has been the hike in sales tax from 5% to 8% which was implemented in April last year. This has dampened spending and Prime Minister Abe has delayed his plans to implement a second hike later this year.
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