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Japan Confronts a Taxing Problem

Japan's economy is still growing, but probably not at the pace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would like. Q4 GDP numbers showed a fourth straight quarter of expansion, but missed analyst estimates. Growth in private consumption and capital spending, the two biggest economic engines, came in lower than expected, a worrying sign ahead of a planned tax hike in April. Exports were sluggish and strong imports are more a sign of expensive energy supplies than buying activity.

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