TOKYO, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Sentiment in Japan's service sector improved in April for the first time in five months, owing to improving revenues from restaurant and department stores, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Thursday.
The monthly Economy Watchers survey's diffusion index, in which a score of more than 50 means people view current economic conditions in a positive light, rose 0.7 point from March to 48.1.
An official from the cabinet office said that there was a notable increase in people visiting department stores and restaurants in the recording period.
The government opted to maintain its basic assessment for the fourth straight month, stating that the Japanese economy is "picking up but there are continued signs of it taking a spell."
Looking ahead, the Cabinet Office said that conditions in the service sector would remain slightly less pressured than a month earlier, with the sentiment index for economic conditions in the coming months edging up just 0.7 point to 48.8.
The Economy Watchers Survey asks business-cycle sensitive workers their thoughts on existing and future economic conditions to provide the government with a detailed picture of economic trends in Japan.
Segments of the economy surveyed include sectors such as retail, restaurant service, and taxi driving and the monthly report serves as both a consumer confidence indicator and a leading indicator for the rest of the economy.
The rise in April was due to more people saying things were getting "better" or "slightly better" and less people seeing conditions as being either "unchanged" or "worse."
The survey was conducted between April 25 to April 30, and polled 2,050 workers across Japan.