Japan’s Economy Expanded in 2021 for the First Time in Three Years

TOKYO — Japan’s economy bounced back into growth in 2021, expanding for the first time in three years as easing concerns about the coronavirus prompted a surge in consumer spending in the year’s fourth quarter.

The result is a rare economic bright spot for Japan, which had been struggling with slow growth even before the virus hit amid slumping demand for exports and trade frictions between the United States and China.

But the good news is likely to be followed, once again, with bad as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has driven consumers back indoors and has disrupted manufacturing during the winter months.

Japan’s economy, the third largest after the United States and China, expanded in 2021 by 1.7 percent in real terms, government data showed Tuesday. The result followed a contraction of 4.5 percent in 2020 and a 0.2 percent drop the year before.

The growth last year was driven by a jump in domestic consumption as vaccine uptake reached…

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