Recent data are mixed. Demand for workers and machinery has increased and exports have risen. But the private demand that accounts for about two-thirds tapes of growth remains weak, suggesting the economy will be sluggish this year after go flat-lining in 2014. Some estimates put growth at below 0.5 percent for this year and as low as 0.1 percent. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE WORLD ECONOMY? Japan is a major market for exporters in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. If consumer demand is strong in Japan it should mean more sales of consumer goods and commodities, since this resource-scarce country imports almost all of the oil and gas it consumes. But there's not much scope for upside from Japan in the near term. Weakness in its economy was a reason for recent downgrades to IMF and World Bank global growth forecasts.
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