Japan's economy grew by a fast 1.5% in the three months to March, accelerating from the end of last year on rush demand before an April tax hike, data showed today. 

The latest expansion in gross domestic product was much faster than the revised growth of 0.1% in the three months from October to December and beat market expectations of a 1.1% rise.

The January to March rise marked the sixth consecutive quarter of growth, according to data from the Cabinet Office.

It was also the fastest growth since the July-September quarter of 2011 when the world's third-largest economy bounced back 2.6% in the aftermath of the earthquake-tsunami disaster that disrupted supply chains for Japanese manufacturers and slammed the brakes on growth.

Since taking office in late 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed big government spending and monetary easing as the solution to conquer years of deflation and tepid growth in Japan's economy. 

The yen has plunged - giving a boost to Japanese exporters - and stock prices soared under his policies dubbed "Abenomics". 

But critics fear that the April 1 sales tax hike - seen as crucial for chopping Japan's massive national debt - would curtail the country's nascent recovery.