Japan's economy slumps back into decline

Japan's economy shrank in the first three months of 2021, as new COVID-19 infections and a slow vaccine rollout hit consumer confidence.

Much of Japan is still under a state of emergency and deaths from COVID are rising.

It's pushed people indoors and spending on dining out and clothes has subsequently fallen.

The world's third largest economy has had one of the slowest vaccine rollouts among major developed nations.

Government data showed on Tuesday the economy shrank just over 5% in the first quarter, following a jump of more than 11% in the one before that.

The contraction also reflects a scaling back of company spending.

And while exports grew, the pace of increase slowed sharply.

There's now concern that Japan's economy may slide back into recession - and lag behind others emerging from the pandemic.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Tuesday blamed the weak GDP report on the curbs introduced to contain the virus.

He said the economy still had the "potential" to recover.