Japan's government lowered its assessment of the economy on Wednesday as output sags, in a worrying sign that recovery is stalling as overseas demand weakens.
The government also downgraded its view of industrial production as factory activity contracts and inventories rise.
The gloomy overall assessment raises the stakes for the Bank of Japan's monetary policy meeting at the end of the month and places Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policies under even greater scrutiny.
"The economy is in a gradual recovery trend, but there are some pockets of weakness," the Cabinet Office said in its monthly economic report. "Recently, industrial output has weakened."