TOKYO, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said on Monday that despite the better-than- expected gross domestic product data released earlier in the day Japan's economic situation still remains severe.
"We have to realize that the actual economic trend continues to be harsh," said the top government spokesman at regular press conference held after the Cabinet Office announced in a preliminary report that Japan's GDP rose at an annualized pace of 4.6 percent in the October-December quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter of expansion.
"We still think the economy and its trend remain severe and to this end quickly implementing measures to be funded by the budget are needed to help prevent the weak economy from sinking into a double-dip recession," Hirano said.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party of Japan faces an upper-house election in July, received parliament's approval for a 7.2 trillion yen (81 billion U.S dollars) stimulus package last month for the current fiscal year, but the largest- ever budget of 92.30 trillion yen (1.02 trillion U.S. dollars) for the year starting in April is currently under deliberation at parliament and the government plans to have it passed by the end of March.
Reiterating Hirano's sentiments Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan, who is also the deputy prime minister said Monday that the chances of the nation's economy suffering another recession in the near-term may have lessened, but the government still needs to be cautious.
"Concerns over a double-dip recession may have receded a bit," Kan told reporters at the Diet building, referring to the Cabinet Office's GDP data that beat most economists' expectations.
"But while there is a glimmer of light shining between the clouds, we cannot be complacent," the finance minister added.
Despite the GDP data revealing healthy increases in private demand, net exports and increases in capital spending in the last quarter of 2009, both Kan and Hirano will be particularly concerned that new budget will jump-start spending as public investment dropped 1.6 percent in last year's Oct.-Dec. quarter.