Economic outlook bleak for Japan

JAPAN - The Bank of Japan has painted a bleak economic picture of weak growth combined with intensifying deflation in its half-yearly report. But a 1.6% rise in retail sales in March from a year earlier provided a ray of hope for new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

ARTICLE - One of Mr Koizumi's main tasks will be to try and turn around the world's second-largest economy after a decade of stagnation.

The BOJ's report showed that the central bank's Policy Board expects the economy to grow in a