Japan economic minister: Japan may already be in recession

TOKYO Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:44pm EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan may already have fallen into recession, the country's economics minister, Seiji Maehara, said on Monday.

"I can not deny the possibility that Japan has fallen into a recession phase," Maehara told reporters, adding that a final assessment on the state of the economy would be made when more data became available.

He also said he expected the Bank of Japan to pursue powerful easing, and that the government and central bank would work together to beat deflation and encourage economic recovery.

Japan's economy shrank 0.9 percent in the three months to September, marking the first contraction in three quarters, adding to signs that slowing global growth and tensions with China are nudging the world's third-largest economy into recession.

The fall in GDP, which matched a median market forecast, translated into an annualized 3.5 percent fall, government data showed on Monday.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko)

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