Japan lost its place to China as the world's No. 2 economy in the second quarter, as receding global growth sapped momentum and stunted a shaky recovery.
Gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 0.4 percent, the government said Monday, far below expectations of 2.3 percent growth in a Kyodo news agency survey.
The figures underscore China's emergence as an economic power that is changing everything from the global balance of military and financial power to how cars are designed. It is already the biggest exporter, auto buyer and steel producer, and its worldwide influence is growing.
China has surpassed Japan in quarterly GDP figures before, but its passing of Japan in the second quarter is likely to mark the period in which the lead became insurmountable.
China's economy will almost certainly be bigger than Japan's at the end of 2010 because of the big difference in each country's growth rates. China's economy is growing about 10 percent a year; Japan's is forecast to grow 3 percent this year.
Japan's nominal GDP, which is not adjusted for price and seasonal variations, was worth $1.286 trillion in the April-to-June quarter, compared with $1.335 trillion for China. The figures are converted into dollars based on an average exchange rate for the quarter.