Manufacturing drop shows weakness in Japan economy

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan's industrial output fell in June for the first monthly decline in five months, according to data highlighting the fragility of the recovery in the world's No. 3 economy.

The government reported Tuesday that manufacturing slipped 3.3 percent from the month before in June and was 4.8 percent lower than a year before.

However, other data showed the jobless rate edging to 3.9 percent, its lowest level since October 2088, when the economy was slammed by the global financial crisis.

The most recent data have officials questioning whether the government should go ahead with a promised sales tax increase that economists say could derail progress in restoring growth and breaking free of deflation. The central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, says the recovery is strong enough to weather a tax hike.

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