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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japanese Economy Shows Spark of Recovery

TOKYO -- The Japanese government slightly upgraded its assessment of the ailing economy Tuesday, but top officials were engaged in an increasingly delicate dance over whether to promise any fresh spending boosts.

The Economic Planning Agency said in a monthly report that the economy's long decline had clearly stopped and that personal consumption, which accounts for 60 percent of economic activity, had begun a weak recovery.

But the EPA offered no hope that the economy as a whole was headed upward and said joblessness continued to worsen. "As recovery in private demand is weak, the economy remains in an extremely severe condition," it said. "But supported by the effects of various policies, the economy has stopped its decline and is largely moving flat."

The agency said this was a bit more positive than the assessments of the past three months, which had said only that the downturn was coming to a halt.

Separately, the Finance Ministry found companies a bit less bearish, with a business-sentiment index improving to minus 9.9 in the April-June quarter from a revised minus 17.9 for January-March.

This marked the second quarter of improvement in the survey, in which a negative index reading indicates pessimists outnumber those expecting their business environment to improve.

EPA chief Taichi Sakaiya said massive public works spending by the government continued to prop up the economy, but job worries constituted one of the remaining downside risks to the world's second-biggest economy.