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Japan’s economy and leader falling in tandem

TOKYO – It’s hard to know which figure out of Japan this week is more telling: the economy shrinking 5.1% or the government’s approval rating falling into the low 30s.

In reality, both are inexorably linked. One is feeding directly off the other at the worst possible moment for Asia’s second-biggest economy.

And together, they speak of the extent to which 2021 is going off the rails for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The breakdown of Japan’s bigger-than-expected contraction in the first three months of the year suggests weakness is everywhere. Private consumption, for example, fell an annualized 1.4%, while business investment, government spending and other key gross domestic product (GDP) drivers also sputtered.