Japan Bounces Back to Economic Growth as Coronavirus Fears Recede – The New York Times

by | Aug 14, 2022 | Financial

TOKYO — Restaurants are full. Malls are teeming. People are traveling. And Japan’s economy has begun to grow again as consumers, fatigued from more than two years of the pandemic, moved away from precautions that have kept coronavirus infections at among the lowest levels of any wealthy country.Lockdowns in China, soaring inflation and brutally high energy prices could not suppress Japan’s economic expansion as domestic consumption of goods and services shot up in the second three months of the year. The country’s economy, the third largest after the United States and China, grew at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent during that period, government data showed on Monday.The second-quarter result followed growth of 0 percent — revised from an initial reading of a 1 percent decline — during the first three months of the year, when consumers retreated to their homes in the face of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.After that initial Omicron wave burned out, shoppers and domestic travelers poured back onto the streets. Case numbers then quickly galloped back to record highs for Japan, but this time the public — highly vaccinated and tired of self-restraint — has reacted less fearfully, said Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America.“After the Omicron wave ended, we had a very nice jump in mobility, lots of catch-up spending in categories like restaurant and travel,” she said.The new growth report indicates that Japan’s economy may finally be back on track after more than two years of yo-yoing between growth and contraction. Still, the country remains an economic “laggard” compared with other wealthy nations, Ms. Devalier said, adding that c …

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