Photo/IllutrationPeople watch a display of color TVs in 1967 during the Izanagi Keiki, a boom sparked by Japan’s high economic growth in the late 1960s. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan’s current economic expansion that started in late 2012 marked the second longest in the postwar era, surpassing the upswing that started in late 1965, and nearing the boom cycle of six years from 2002.

The Working Group of Indexes of Business Conditions at the Cabinet Office certified the expansion on Dec. 13.

The current boom began in December 2012, the same month that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office for a second time. The panel concluded that the upswing has continued for at least four years and 10 months through September last year.

If the economy remains on an upward trend through January 2019, which many economists say is highly likely, the expansion will mark the longest in postwar Japan.

The working group of experts, led by Hiroshi Yoshikawa, an economics professor of Rissho University, assesses whether the economy is growing based on nine indexes, including production and employment.

Rather than making a monthly assessment, it analyzes an overall trend during a year following the period in question to examine if the boom was still continuing at that time.

So far, the longest is Izanami Keiki, an upturn that lasted six years and one month, through February 2008.

The previous second longest economic expansion was Izanagi Keiki, which continued for four years and nine months from November 1965, when the nation's economy was rapidly growing.

Even though the economy may be growing, it is merely in terms of the length of the period, and not in the size of the growth.

During Izanagi Keiki, which began a year after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and continued through July 1970, which overlapped Osaka hosting the World Expo, the average annual growth rate topped 10 percent.

Many Japanese felt a sense of being better off during that period due to the quick spread of the so-called “3Cs,” cars, coolers (air conditioners) and color TVs into society.

However, the current growth rate is between 1 percent and 2 percent, too low to get consumers to feel any increase in prosperity in a real sense.

Some economists pointed out that the economic upswing had already ended after personal consumption plunged in the wake of a hike in the consumption tax rate from 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014.

It is unclear if the current boom will continue beyond January.

Downward risks are expected to surge in 2019 because of a trade war between China and the United States and the looming Brexit in March. On the home front, the consumption tax rate is scheduled to rise from 8 percent to 10 percent in October.