For all of 2012, the economy grew 1.9 percent, after a 0.6 contraction in 2011.
Despite the dismal data for last year, many in Japan expect at least a temporary bump to growth from higher government spending on public works and other programs. An index measuring consumer confidence, released earlier this week, jumped to its highest level since 2007, the biggest ever increase in a single month.
Earlier this week, Abe appealed to businesses to raise wages to help boost domestic demand and carry on momentum from government spending. Data for the fourth quarter showed that private consumption, which accounts for more than two-thirds of Japan’s economic activity, rose 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter while housing investment climbed 3.5 percent. Investment by businesses, however, fell 2.6 percent and exports dropped 3.7 percent.