Japan's economy slid into reverse for the first time in two years at the beginning of the year, hit by sluggish consumption and a winter cold snap, but analysts predicted the world's third-largest economy would quickly rebound.
"There were one-off special factors in the January-March period, ranging from stock market sell-offs to higher vegetable prices due to bad weather", said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin.
"There wasn't any particular driver for the weakness - private consumption and public demand were flat while investment spending and net exports fell slightly", Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economic said in a commentary. That works out to an annualized contraction of 0.6 percent.
Japan's gross domestic product - the value of a nation's goods and services - dipped on-quarter 0.2 percent. But economists believe the drop would be temporary.
Japan depends on global growth to fuel its own economy for which exports are crucial.
Japan's 2018 Q1 (Jan-Mar) first preliminary GDP estimates showed real GDP growth of - 0.6% q-q annualized, the first negative growth in nine quarters, notes the research team at Nomura.
"The negative growth looks to have been largely driven by deterioration in consumer spending and a slowdown in exports, which is more or less in line with what we had been expecting".
But consumer spending has remained stubbornly lacklustre, with companies staying stingy on wage hikes despite healthy profits.
External demand - or exports minus imports - added 0.1 percentage point to first-quarter GDP, as imports slowed more than exports.
Japan's government is preparing for its annual announcement of guidelines for economic and fiscal policy, but the government has been distracted by allegations of cronyism that have hurt Abe's approval ratings.