Japan's economy just logged its longest stretch of growth in over a decade

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Japan’s economy grew at the fastest pace in a year in the first quarter of 2017, according to data released by the government on Thursday.

Real GDP increased by 0.5%, marginally shading expectations for a smaller expansion of 0.4%. It was also an improvement on the 0.3% increase of December quarter.

It was the fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest stretch of uninterrupted growth since 2006.

While a noteable achievement, the record provides an indication about the struggles the Japanese economy has endured over that period, buffeted by falling population growth, deflation and the global financial crisis.

The quarterly increase took the seasonally-adjusted annual rate to 2.2%, the fastest growth seen since the first quarter of 2016. That was ahead of market forecasts for an increase of 1.7%, and followed an upwardly-revised December quarter figure of 1.4%.

According to the government, domestic demand grew by 0.4%, driven by a similar increase in private consumption during the quarter.

The latter accounts for around 60% of the total Japanese economy.

Elsewhere private residential investment rose by 0.7%, while business investment grew by a smaller 0.2%.

Public demand expanded by a smaller 0.1%

External demand, or net exports, added 0.1% to the quarterly GDP figure as exports grew faster than imports.

However, while real GDP grew, nominal GDP — including price movements during the quarter — recorded a marginal decline.

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