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76. expansion may be faltering. This section identifies the factors that have driven the upturn and considers whether it is likely to be sustainable. Such an assessment is essential to evaluate whether deflation will continue and if fiscal consolidation can be more ambitious without bringing a premature end to the expansion. Factors responsible for the strong expansion Double-digit export growth since mid-2003 has played a major role in this recovery. China (including Hong Kong, China) has been the key market, accounting for a third of the rise in Japanese exports during the course of the expansion, supported by strong demand OECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: JAPAN – ISBN 92-64-00822-5 – © OECD 2005 49 2.

2. The different measures of inflation Understanding the path of inflation is complicated by the diverging trends reported by the various measures of the overall price level. Indeed, the rate of inflation is significantly negative, close to zero or positive depending on the index chosen. The most important indicator for the Bank of Japan is the core consumer price index, which excludes fresh food but includes energy. * The high rate of deflation reported by the GDP deflator reflects significant falls in the price of investment goods, which declined 2 per cent in 2003.

This section outlines the major challenges that will be analysed in the following chapters. 1. Ending deflation and sustaining the economic expansion Overcoming deflation remains the top priority for the monetary authorities. The persistence of price declines in the face of a 4¼ per cent pace of growth during the first half of 2004 indicates the degree to which deflation has become entrenched after six years. Indeed, about 60 per cent of the items in the consumer price index are reporting falling prices.

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