TOKYO, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Sentiment in Japan's service sector improved for the second successive month in May, 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 0.5 point from April to 48.6, the Cabinet Office said.
Despite the reading coming in below the benchmark 50 line meaning more respondents reported conditions as worsening than improving over the past three months, the government upgraded its assessment for the fist time in six months.
The government said in its upgraded assessment that the Japanese economy "continues to pick up," raising its assessment from the statement it had upheld until April that the economy is "picking up but there are continued signs of it taking a spell."
The rise in sentiment in the recording period, a Cabinet Office official said, was in part due to robust sales of electrical appliances as the temperature rose in the recording period and as a result of increasing numbers of visitors to Japan buoying the tourist industry.
The Cabinet Office said that of those surveyed, some in the construction sector had also vouched for business conditions improving, stating that orders in the reporting period had been robust.
Looking ahead, the Cabinet Office said that conditions in the service sector would start to look less pressured, with the sentiment index for economic conditions in the coming months standing at 49.6, up 0.8 point, on solid demand for electrical appliances in the summer months ahead.
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 May 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 from May 25 to May 31 and polled 2,050 service sector workers from across Japan.