The Japanese government says its economy has grown for the first time in over a year, and is now officially out of recession.

Japan has now joined other nations such as Germany and France in emerging from recession.

Latest figures show the world's second largest economy expanded by 0.9% in April to June, returning to positive growth for the first time in five quarters.

The growth has been attributed by observers to a huge government economic stimulus package.

The economy had contracted by 3.1% in the first quarter and by 3.5% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Japan had plunged into recession in the second quarter of 2008 as a severe global downturn crushed demand for its cars, electronics and other goods.

The return to positive growth is welcome news for Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose ruling party risks being swept from power in an election this month amid anger over the fallout from the worst economic slump in decades.

The economy is expected to keep growing through the rest of 2009, said Barclays Capital economist Kyohei Morita.

'However, this is still a recovery underpinned by government policy measures and far from a self-sustaining turnaround,' he warned.