Govt working to improve GDP data accuracy to avoid gaps

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s Cabinet Office is working to improve the accuracy of its data on gross domestic product, a measure of the country’s total output in goods and services.

The move reflects concerns that large gaps between preliminary and revised GDP data could affect the government’s policy decisions.

The Cabinet Office revises GDP data based on capital spending figures released by the Finance Ministry two or three weeks after preliminary GDP numbers come out.

Preliminary GDP data mainly reflect shipments by industrial machinery makers as actual capital spending numbers are not available, creating gaps with revised GDP figures.

Revised GDP data for April-June, released on Friday, put Japan’s economic growth at 2.5 percent, representing a downward revision of 1.5 percentage points from the preliminary reading, the biggest gap since comparable data became available in April-June 2010.

To improve the accuracy of its GDP data, the Cabinet Office plans to use part of actual capital spending figures, currently reflected in revised GDP numbers, for preliminary data on a trial basis starting in fiscal 2019.

The agency will decide whether to adopt the method by fiscal 2022, which ends in March 2023, after studying its results.

Specifically, it plans to ask big companies with capital of ¥1 billion or more to provide their capital spending data at an early stage, in cooperation with the Finance Ministry.

“To what extent companies will cooperate [with the request] will be the key to improvements in [GDP data] accuracy. It is necessary to check whether the data obtained in advance are unbiased,” a Cabinet Office official said.Speech

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