Japan, the world's second-largest economy, has fallen into recession, the government said Monday. The country's gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.4 percent from July to September, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative growth, the Washington Post reported today. Japan's economy minister warned that the situation could worsen: Collapsing sales of Japanese goods in the United States and Europe amid the global downturn threaten to make the country's export-dependent economy even weaker in coming months. Even before the 2001 recession, the country was mired in a severe recession throughout much of the 1990s--its "lost decade"--as a property bubble burst and the banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. The legacy of that recession is a huge public debt--the largest among major developed countries--that significantly limits the government's borrowing capacity. Read more.