Japan was hit by its biggest economic slump on record in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic emptied shopping centres and hit demand for cars and other exports. 

The third quarter of declines in a row knocked the size of real gross domestic product to decade-low levels.

It also wiped out the benefits brought by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "Abenomics" stimulus policies deployed in late 2012. 

While the economy is emerging from the doldrums after lockdowns were lifted in late May, many analysts expect any rebound in the current quarter to be modest as a renewed rise in infections keep consumers' purse-strings tight.

The world's third-largest economy shrank an annualised 27.8% in April-June, government data showed today.

This marked the biggest decline since comparable data became available in 1980 and was slightly bigger than a median market forecast for a 27.2% drop. 

While the contraction was smaller than a 32.9% decrease in the US, it was much bigger than a 17.8% fall Japan in the first quarter of 2009, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers jolted global financial markets.

The size of Japan's real GDP shrank to 485 trillion yen, the lowest since April-June 2011, when Japan was still suffering from two decades of deflation and economic stagnation.

Underlying the dismal reading was private consumption, which plunged a record 8.2% as lock-down measures to prevent the spread of the virus kept consumers at home.

External demand - or exports minus imports - shaved a record 3.0 percentage point off GDP, as overseas shipments tumbled 18.5%, with car exports hit particularly hard. 

Falling global vehicle sales have hurt automakers like Mazda and Nissan, among the biggest drivers of Japan's economy. 

Capital expenditure declined 1.5% in the second quarter, less than a median market forecast for a 4.2% fall, as solid software investment made up for weak spending in other sectors.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura conceded the GDP readings were "pretty severe," but pointed to some bright spots such as a recent pickup in consumption. 

However, some analysts warn that companies could cut jobs and spending if a resurgence in infections and soft global demand continue to hurt their bottom line. 

Renewed US-China tensions may also weigh on the fragile recovery. About 90% of economists surveyed by Reuters expect the conflict to affect Japan's economy.  

Japan has deployed massive fiscal and monetary stimulus to cushion the blow from the pandemic, which hit an economy already reeling from last year's sales tax hike and the US-China trade war. 

While the economy has re-opened after the government lifted state of emergency measures in late May, a recent worrying rise in infections cloud the outlook.