Japan's economy in quarterly dive
By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo
Japan's economy contracted by 3.3% in the last quarter of last year - its worst showing since the oil crisis of the 1970s, official figures show.
The slowdown in Japan, the world's second biggest economy, is steeper than in the US or Europe.
Japan has been hit particularly hard by falling global demand for its products, including electronics and cars.
Exports have slumped and production has been slashed. Consumers have cut back too, alarmed by rising unemployment.
Now the government has confirmed that in October to December last year Japan's gross domestic product fell by 3.3%.
It is the equivalent of an annual decline of 12.7% - the worst figures since the 1970s.
Prime Minister Taro Aso is hampered in his response by a divided parliament and a fractious ruling party.
There were reports over the weekend that he is considering another stimulus package of government spending worth 20 trillion yen ($218bn; £152bn).
But the latest opinion poll has showed fewer than 10% of people support the prime minister, who must call a general election by September.
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