The received wisdom on the state of the Japanese economy — that it was in weak, but not disastrous, shape before the coronavirus hit tourism and industrial supply chains — suffered a big blow last week when growth numbers for the final quarter of 2019 showed the economy shrank at an annualised rate of 6.3 per cent. The key question this week is whether that pounding will continue as a wave of economic data, mostly covering January, floods the market on Thursday.

The gross domestic product figures were so far below economists’ forecasts of a 3.7 per cent decline that they have had to accept they underestimated the impact on consumer spending of October’s VAT rise. Japan is now on the brink of a technical

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