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Disaster batters Japan's economy

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Running for their lives
  • Officials say the disaster has placed pressures on exports, production and consumption
  • More than 28,000 people are dead or missing since a massive earthquake last month
  • Despite problems, professional baseball starts in Japan this week

Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan has lowered its assessment of the country's economy for the first time in six months, as it begins to quantify the tremendous toll twin disasters have brought to the island nation.

Japan's cabinet office blamed last month's tsunami and earthquake for the downgrade, saying it has placed serious pressures on exports, production and consumption.

The government's assessment came out the same day that police announced a rise in the death toll.

The death toll rose to 13,333 and 15,150 were missing, Japan's National Police said Wednesday.

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But even with the sobering news Japan was beginning to get back to normal life in some areas.

An airport in devastated Sendai opened for commercial flights for first time Wednesday, though the airport was still limited and would only have a few flights, officials said.

After being delayed for three weeks, Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League started this week. One game featured the Rakuten Eagles from Sendai.

The game started with a moment a silence for victims and earlier players from the Eagles visited children in shelters and delivered televisions so that they could watch the opening game.

Even though the teams had agreed to play the game during the day to conserve electricity, there was a large turnout.

"I think baseball's a healing thing, not only for us but for the fans as well," said Darrell Rasner, an Eagles player.

The evidence of that may have been in the stands of the packed stadium Tuesday where many carried signs that said: "Be strong Japan."

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.

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