Japan's trade minister apologized on Monday for disclosing market sensitive third-quarter GDP figures to oil industry executives ahead of its official release, in an embarrassing slip for a government that took power two months ago.
The much-stronger-than-expected third-quarter growth figures caused Japanese bond prices to dip after the official release by the Cabinet Office at 8:50 a.m. (6:50 p.m. EST), although they later recovered as analysts warned the outlook was less rosy.
Masayuki Naoshima, the minister of economy, trade and industry, said that he told industry officials about GDP data because of concerns about the economy and he did not know the data was due later.
I'm sorry. I honestly didn't know it was due to be released at 8:50 a.m. so I thought it would be OK to talk about it, Naoshima told reporters.
I apologize for causing trouble and I'll be careful from now on.
Japan's economy grew 1.2 percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace in more than two years as stimulus lifted consumer spending and capital spending bottomed out.
It was the first GDP data released after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's new government took power in mid-September in the wake of an election that ousted the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party.
The government under the LDP had become more careful with handling the GDP data after a newspaper reported the figures ahead of the release a decade ago, forcing policymakers to confirm the figures.
(Additional reporting by Sumio Ito and Yoko Nishikawa; Writing by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Rodney Joyce)