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Unemployment figures reach new record

Date Posted: 1999-05-08

The nation’s unemployment rate has risen to a new record of 4.8 percent, a 0.2 jump from last month’s previous record, amid calls for Japan to restructure its economy and drag itself out of the worst recession in more than 50 years.

The number of unemployed reached 3.40 million in March, 170,000 up from figures released for February. Corporate restructuring is seen as the main cause of the increase, as companies continue to shed workers to cut back on costs.

“The unemployment situation is becoming increasingly severe. And it is our most important task to tackle the situation,'' AP quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka as saying to reporters at a recent news conference.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Obuchi has said he expects the unemployment rate to rise, he told students at the University of Chicago during his trip last week to the United States to meet with President Clinton. “I regret to say that inevitably, the unemployment rate will continue to rise,” Kyodo news quoted Obuchi as saying Saturday.

Latest figures from the Labor Ministry show college graduates are also being hard hit, with less than 50 percent of graduates finding employment. Previously, nearly all school leavers and graduates were able to find a job. Household spending also dropped. Labor Minister Akira Amari said the government would need to introduce further measures to help the unemployed and create jobs.

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