Exports are leading Japan's economic recovery, breathing life into the job market and making consumers more confident about spending, economists said. Japan's consumer-confidence index increased from 39 in January to 39.8 last month, the Cabinet Office said. "Obviously, nine to 12 months ago, things were bad beyond belief," said Richard Jerram, chief economist for Asia at Macquarie Securities. "As that has reversed, you've seen a fairly standard response in consumer spending."

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