President George W. Bush, left, talks with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso during a plenary session on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, in Washington. [Agencies]
Japan's economy, the second largest in the world, slipped into recession in the third quarter as companies slashed investment to weather the financial crisis, official data showed Monday.
Japan's economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the three months to September, after shrinking 0.9 percent in the second quarter of the year, according to a preliminary estimate released by the Cabinet Office.
Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted at an annualised rate of 0.4 percent, it estimated.
The latest snapshot of Asia's biggest economy was gloomier than expected. Analysts' forecasts, on average, had been for modest growth of 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter.
Japan joins Germany and Italy on the list of Group of Eight major economies that are officially in recession, which is usually defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
Official figures showed Friday that the eurozone as a whole is also in recession.
The contraction in Japan's economy was mainly the result of a 1.7 percent drop in business investment in the third quarter.
After suffering a series of on-off recessions in the 1990s following the bursting of the economic bubble, Japan had been slowly recovering on the back of brisk exports and business investment.
Corporate profits, however, are now sliding as exports suffer from the global economic slowdown, prompting companies to slash investment in new equipment and factories, which had been a key driver of economic growth.
Analysts see little prospect of a recovery any time soon. The Japanese economy is expected to contract 0.1 percent in 2009, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Japan's Nikkei stock index fell 1.30 percent in opening trade in the wake of the worse-than-expected economic data.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）