China has – statistically anyway – overtaken Japan in terms of growth, putting it on track to become the world’s second biggest economy this year.
In the three month period from April to June, Japan’s gross domestic product was less than its Asian neighbour.
Its GDP totalled 1006.7 billion euros, while China’s was 1045.1 billion on a nominal euro basis.
However Japan stressed it is misleading to simply compare quarterly growth figures.
The economy minister, Satoshi Arai, said: “Whoever is top or bottom has no meaning. It only represents each country’s current economic health. Japan’s development closely follows that of China’s and other Asian nations.”
Economists pointed out that Japan’s growth – particularly through exports – is very much dependent on the performance of overseas economies.
On the streets of Tokyo, people had various explanations. One man said: “I think this was an obvious outcome. Japan set up factories there, but it ended up with our technology being stolen.”
Another felt it was because people in other countries work harder: “I think the reason for this is the South Koreans or the Chinese, as people are more “driven” than the Japanese.”
While a woman mused: “Maybe I should have my children learn Chinese for the future.”
The news pushed Japanese shares lower. They were already under pressure from the fact that the Japanese yen has been near a 15-year high against the US dollar hitting the profits of companies selling their goods overseas.