By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo
The number of failures in the manufacturing industry has risen
Japan's core machinery orders, a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy, fell by 5.4% in April.
The figures, which were just released by the Government, were worse than expected.
Japan is dependent on exports for growth, and has been hit badly by the global collapse in demand in the past half-year.
The latest figures underline the slump in Japan's economy and suggest that any recovery will be slow and fragile.
The fall in core machinery orders of 5.4% in April was far worse than analysts had expected.
It shows companies are reluctant to invest despite signs that a brutal plunge in industrial production and exports may be bottoming out.
Japan remains mired in its worst financial crisis since the end of the Second World War.
The economy, the world's second largest, contracted by a record 4% in the first quarter of the year. That is worse than the declines in other major industrialized nations.
The Government is banking on massive public spending to turn the economy around.
The latest package is worth around $150bn (£100bn).