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Japan trade minister leaked GDP data: source


Japan's Trade Minister Masayuki Naoshima speaks at a news conference during the APEC Summit in Singapore November 11, 2009 REUTERS/Michael Fiala
Japan's Trade Minister Masayuki Naoshima speaks at a news conference during the APEC Summit in Singapore November 11, 2009 REUTERS/Michael Fiala

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's trade minister disclosed market sensitive third-quarter GDP figures to oil industry executives on Monday ahead of its official release, a source within the ministry said, in an embarrassment 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. (2350 GMT), although they later recovered as analysts warned the outlook was less rosy.

Masayuki Naoshima, the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, mentioned GDP data in a speech in a meeting with the industry leaders ahead of the release time, the source, who attended the meeting, told Reuters.

Kyodo News reported that the minister had made a mistake.

"I did not know about the embargo time," Kyodo quoted Naoshima as telling reporters.

An official at Naoshima's office told Reuters on the phone that they are trying to confirm what was said.

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.

(Reporting by Sumio Ito; Writing by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Rodney Joyce)

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