TOKYO - The Japanese economy shrank in the last quarter of 2012, official data showed on Thursday, the third quarter of contraction as the nation's limp economy stayed in recession.
Tokyo said growth contracted 0.1 percent in the October-December quarter from the previous three months, data that is likely to further stir fears about Japan's recovery as a new government in Tokyo vows to reflate the world's third-largest economy.
However, the country logged growth of 1.9 percent through all of 2012 compared with the previous year, when Japan was hammered by the quake-tsunami disaster, dealing a major blow to firms' domestic production and consumer demand.
Financial turmoil in Europe, an export-denting strong yen and a diplomatic row with major trade partner China have hurt Japan's economy, dousing hopes it had cemented a recovery after the twin disasters.
The country has seen a mixed bag of economic data lately, with factory output rising 2.5 percent in December on-quarter while the trade picture remains hazy with Japan reporting a record trade deficit for 2012.
However, the yen has weakened in recent months, helping make the nation's exporters more competitive and boosting their latest earnings results.