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Japan's economic recovery still uncertain, report says

Date Posted: 1999-04-16

The Japanese economy has bottomed out, according to the latest report by the Economic Planning Agency, adding, however, these positive signs do not reflect a recovery from the worst recession to hit the country in more than 50 years. According to the April EPA report, the recession has seen major corporate restructuring force more people out of jobs and into unemployment lines.

February saw the unemployment rate soar to a record high of 4.6 percent, with the number of jobless exceeding 3 million for the first time. EPA chief Taiichi Sakaiya has warned that the jobless rate could rise above 5 percent over the coming months as companies continue to reduce staff levels.

According to a Reuters poll, economists predict the economy will "post an unprecedented third straight year of decline, with an upturn still at least a year away."

The Japanese Government has also become increasingly worried about the rise of the yen, with Sakaiya stating the yen had reached an "inappropriate level."

The yen reached a two-year high of ・108.2 to the dollar Monday. Almost 12 months ago, the yen dropped to ・145 to the dollar, which prompted the US Federal Reserve Bank to intervene. Tuesday saw intervention by the Bank of Japan, pushing the rate back up to ・112.50.

According to a Reuters report, the move came after Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said he was "carefully watching moves in the yen in domestic and overseas markets."

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