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Japan's economy shrinks 0.4 pct in 4Q 2012

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's economy remained mired in recession in the last quarter of last year, shrinking 4 percent in annualized terms for the third straight quarter of contraction.

The government reported Thursday that growth for all of 2012 was 1.9 percent, as the world's third largest economy suffered from feeble domestic demand and weak exports, partly thanks to friction with China over a territorial dispute.

Last year began on an upbeat note with annual growth in the first quarter at 6 percent as strong government spending on reconstruction from the March 2011 tsunami disaster helped spur demand. But the economy slipped back into contraction in the second quarter.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in late December, is championing aggressive spending and monetary stimulus to help get growth back on track.