Japan Inflation Stops as Spending Falls

The Japanese economy limped into the second quarter, as household spending fell, people left the job market and the central bank’s key inflation gauge slowed to zero.

Consumer prices excluding fresh food and effects of last year’s sales-tax increase were unchanged in April from a year earlier. Household spending unexpectedly fell 1.3 percent and industrial production was lower than a year earlier when the levy hike triggered a recession, according to the government data released Friday.

Weakness in the economy is raising the stakes for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as unprecedented efforts by the central bank fail to spur inflation and pressure grows to contain the world’s heaviest debt burden. The International Monetary Fund says Japan needs a complete set of policies to boost growth that would avoid dependence on a weak yen, which slumped to a 12-year low this week.