>> Japan's longest growth streak in a decade. Data on Thursday shows GDP expanding at 2.2% in January to March, a fifth straight quarter of growth that beats expectations. The economy's showing sparks of life thanks to strong exports, plus a pickup in domestic consumption. It could also point to a steady recovery already underway.
And may be a sign of strong progress under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's so-called Abenomics plan. As Reuter's Leika Kihara reports it equals political points for Abe too>> One of the reason Abe has maintained fairly high ratings is because the economy is doing well and bringing more jobs to people and raising income.
I think that the administration would continue to make efforts, so that the economy is in fairly good shape. That would be crucial for him to maintain the high ratings and pursue other priorities he has such as revising the constitution.>> It's all good news today but long term the picture's less clear and it's tricky to decide where to take Abe's plan next.
>> The question is how to use the recovery to pursue painful but necessary structure reforms promised under Mr. Abe's Abenomics. Japan's potential growth remains very low and we're going to see an aging population. And a dwindling working age population which would weigh on potential growth and measures needs to be taken to address this.
>> Thursday's news is likely welcome relief for the bank of Japan. Policy makers want the economy to get enough traction to drive up wages and inflation, however consumer spending is still weak. So for now, companies are wary of increasing wages and prices are barely rising. That puts pressure on the BOJ to maintain its massive stimulus even under the latest signs of strain.