Comment on December unemployment rate

31 January 2003

Tadayoshi KUSANO
General Secretary

  1. The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications announced today that the unemployment rate for December last year was a worst-ever 5.5% with 3.31 million jobless people. The rate for 2002 as a whole is 5.4%, up from 5.0% in 2001.

    There is a sign of recovery in the number of job vacancies. However, there is no sign for recovery in the employment situation as a whole. We are still faced with a critical phase with the following problems:

    a) There is an increase of 300,000 persons over last year in the involuntary unemployed most of which is resulted from corporate failures and rationalisation. The number of involuntary jobless people has been increasing for 17 consecutive months;

    b) The number of the employed has been declining for more than a year and half. There is a decrease of 400,000 in the employed over last year, while more than one million people have lost a desire to work and joined the category of “non-working force”;

    c) Those willing to find a new job have been continuously declining.

  2. The Government adopted yesterday the supplementary budget with 530 billion yen allocated to employment measures, based on the tripartite agreement. However, the amount is far from sufficient, with which it would not be possible to improve the current employment situation.

    The current Diet session being recognised as an “employment Diet”, the Government should shift to employment-oriented policies with the highest priority given to employment security. The fiscal 2003 budget should indicate a political will to get rid of the sense of insecurity among people and include job security and creation measures with a view to providing sufficient jobs for the unemployed.

    At the same time, deregulation in the area of labour, a cut in the employment insurance benefits and a raise in health insurance burden should be immediately withdrawn; otherwise, the sense of insecurity will be accelerated.

  3. Employers should fulfil their social responsibility for job security, based on the tripartite agreement of not creating any further unemployment. Rengo will request employers to refrain from easy personnel cuts, including opportunistic dismissals. Rengo also will negotiate with every company for the protection not only of their regular employees but also of their part-time workers and those in their associated companies.