Re: [OPE] Japan's unemployment bombshell...

From: Paul Bullock <>
Date: Sun Aug 30 2009 - 18:27:12 EDT

The point here is to remind ourselves that official unemployment measures in
Japan mean that if you work more than ONE hour a week you are NOT
unemployed. This, I think, can be confirmed by M.Itoh ( please Makoto? ),
and I am not sure that the figs below are of the same ilk, ie not OECD or
ILO definitions.

Paul Bullock

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 5:04 PM
Subject: [OPE] Japan's unemployment bombshell...

> (As I noted on OPE-L a month ago, there are big changes in the wind now in
> Japan's political economy, and this is again confirmed by reports in
> recent
> days. Unemployment has begun to rise steeply in Japan, across the last six
> months, and this will affect all the Pacific rim countries as well).
> Japanese jobless rate hits record high
> By Mure Dickie and Robin Harding in Tokyo and Justine Lau in Hong Kong
> Published: FT August 28 2009
> Japan's unemployment rate on Friday hit its highest level since records
> began in 1960, underscoring the economic problems that could result in a
> political earthquake in Sunday's general election.
> Widespread dissatisfaction with the Liberal Democratic party and the
> sharpest recession in decades have set the stage for what polls say could
> be
> a landslide victory by the decade-old Democratic party. (...) efforts to
> rebuild confidence in the LDP's economic competence will have suffered a
> new
> setback from the bleak data released on Friday on the two economic issues
> of
> most concern to the electorate - prices and employment. Seasonally
> adjusted
> unemployment rose to a record 5.7 per cent in July, up from 5.4 per cent
> in
> June, while deflation also tightened its grip on the economy, with core
> consumer prices excluding fresh food - the central bank's preferred
> measure - down 2.2 per cent on a year earlier.
> The change may seem slight to the layman, but consider what this means:
> In a separate report the same day, the labor ministry said the ratio of
> job
> offers to job seekers in July fell to an all-time low of 0.42. That means
> there were 42 jobs available for every 100 job seekers. (...) Tadayoshi
> Ichida, secretary general of the Japanese Communist Party, said the latest
> figure invalidates the argument by the government and the ruling bloc that
> if big businesses make profits, people's incomes will increase. "We need
> to
> work on reviewing labor laws, including the overhaul of the labor dispatch
> law," he said.
> The pressure therefore builds up for labour market flexibilization:
> Japanese employment practice is traditionally founded on lifetime
> employment. The employee usually remains with one company for his/her
> entire
> working life. The employment period is thus not stipulated and the post is
> assured until mandatory retirement age, which is usually somewhere between
> 55 and 60 years. Such a regular employee normally does not have special
> skills when he/she enters but tends to be trained within the company by
> being rotated between different jobs and departments. However, this
> tradition does not meet the needs of all employers and employees. In the
> year 2000, the regular staff was 74% of all employees and the number is
> decreasing
> Unemployment continues to increase, while labour mobility slows:
> Taro Saito, senior economist at NLI Research Institute
> [ ], said the jobless
> rate
> will
> reach the 6-percent mark by the end of the year even though the rate of
> increase is expected to slow. (...) The unemployment rate for men rose
> 0.4
> point from June to 6.1 percent, exceeding 6.0 percent for the first time.
> For women, the jobless rate increased 0.1 point to 5.1 percent. Japan had
> 3.59 million unemployed people in July, up by a record 1.03 million from
> the
> same month last year. Of the unemployed, 1.21 million, up 650,000, lost
> their jobs based on the decisions of their employers, while 1.1 million
> people, an increase of 100,000, left their jobs on their own. The harsh
> job
> situation was particularly tough on young people in July, with the jobless
> rate at 9.9 percent for those between 15 and 24 years old. (...) The ratio
> of job offers to job seekers, based on information from the government-run
> Hello Work job placement centers, had dropped by at least 0.06 point every
> month from January to April.
> Maybe old loony news, but nevertheless of interest:
> A Marxist novel written in 1929 has climbed to the top of Japan's best
> seller list, reflecting growing anxiety about job security and widening
> income gaps in the world's second-biggest economy. (...) "A Crab-Canning
> Boat" tells the tale of a crab boat crew working in harsh conditions under
> a
> sadistic captain. It was written by Takiji Kobayashi, a communist who was
> tortured to death by police at the age of 29 in 1933. Most of the novel is
> devoted to the crew's struggle to unite and coordinate a strike, and the
> story ends with their vow to topple their capitalists masters.
> August 15 2008, the day of the 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II
> (day of the surrender of Japanese imperialism), was commemorated by a
> rally
> titled " ' Crab-Canning Ship ' -Do we allow the Constitution succumb to
> national interest and chauvinistic nationalism?'". 580 participants
> gathered
> to the rally in Nakano, Tokyo. (...) The rally was opened by the address
> of
> a young social welfare worker who articulated the purpose of the rally in
> the following words: "Now the whole world has become 'Crab-Canning Ship'.
> We
> all live in a 'Crab-Canning Ship'. But we can change the whole world when
> we
> are united."
> For more labour force data see:
> Yen reference rates:
> (the Yen did not gain ground much after its fall in Q4 2008, and most
> likely
> will go down more).
> Jurriaan
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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