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Japan's economy grows 1.5% in Jan-March

Japan's economy grew by a fast 1.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to March, accelerating from the end of last year on rush demand before a tax hike in April, data showed Thursday.

TOKYO: Japan's economy grew by a fast 1.5 percent on-quarter in the three months to March, accelerating from the end of last year on rush demand before an April tax hike, data showed Thursday.

The latest expansion in gross domestic product was much faster than the revised growth of 0.1 percent in the October-December period and beat market expectations of a 1.1 percent rise.

The January-March rise marked the sixth consecutive quarter of growth, according to data from the Cabinet Office.

It was also the fastest growth since the July-September quarter of 2011 when the world's third-largest economy bounced back 2.6 percent in the aftermath of the quake-tsunami disaster that disrupted supply chains for Japanese manufacturers and slammed the brakes on growth.

Since taking office in late 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed big government spending and monetary easing as the solution to conquer years of deflation and tepid growth in Japan's economy.

The yen has plunged -- giving a boost to Japanese exporters -- and stock prices soared under his policies dubbed "Abenomics".

But critics fear that the April 1 sales tax hike -- seen as crucial for chopping Japan's massive national debt -- would curtail the country's nascent recovery.

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