Japan's annual industrial output fell 3.5 percent in 2011 overall but rose by more than expected in December, a mixed bag of official data from the world's third-biggest economy showed on Tuesday.
Japanese unemployment edged up in the month, while household spending recorded its first increase since the disasters of March 2011 dealt the country a body-blow.
Industrial production fell after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami disrupted supply chains across the country, annual figures from the economy, trade and industry ministry showed.
The overall output figure has been volatile in recent years, with a 21.9 percent plunge in 2009 in the aftermath of the crisis sparked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers followed by a 16.4 percent year-on-year jump in 2010.
The main contributors to the 2011 fall were telecommunications equipment, which dropped 22.8 percent, cars and other transport equipment down 9.9 percent, and electronic parts down 9.4 percent.
The Japanese economy was hit by a series of blows during the year, most prominently the March disaster that left more than 19,000 people dead and missing and triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Electricity cuts followed across the country as atomic generating capacity was taken offline, and the catastrophe wreaked havoc on manufacturers' supply chains.
Flooding in Thailand, where many Japanese companies have subsidiaries and parts suppliers, had a similar effect later in the year.
Japan's crucial export sector has also been complaining for months over the value of the yen, which set a series of post-War highs against the US dollar in 2011 and remains close to those levels.
A strong yen makes Japanese products more expensive abroad and eats away at repatriated profits, and last week Japan announced its first annual trade deficit for more than 30 years, with fossil fuel imports jumping to power electricity generation.
But industrial output rose by a bigger-than-expected 4.0 percent in December from November, beating market expectations of a 2.8 percent rise and reversing a 2.7 percent fall in November.
The same sectors that contributed to the annual output fall were responsible for the December rise.
The jobless rate also edged up to 4.6 percent in December from 4.5 percent in the previous month, the ministry of internal affairs and communication said. Economists had forecast the figure would stay flat at 4.5 percent.
The total number of jobless stood at 2.75 million in December. The figure is a drop of 240,000 on the previous year, but as Japan's working-age population is also falling that still meant the unemployment rate went up.
The labour ministry said in a separate survey that the ratio of job offers to job seekers was 0.71 in December, up from 0.69 in November, meaning there were 71 job offers to every 100 job hunters.
Household spending in December rose by inflation-adjusted 0.5 percent from a year earlier, the first rise since a 0.5 percent increase in February 2011.