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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK

Business: The Company File

Mitsubishi axes 14,000 jobs

Japan is suffering from its worst economic slump since World War II

Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is axeing 14,000 jobs over the next three years to try and boost profitability.

The company, one of Japan's largest consolidated electronics manufacturers, makes everything from semiconductors to nuclear power plants and employs 146,000 people worldwide.

It has been struggling with huge losses due to falling semi-conductor prices and weak demand for consumer products like refrigerators in Japan.

The company reported a group net loss of 105.92bn yen ($883m) last year, compared to a net profit of 8.52bn ($71m) in 1996.

Hard times

Mitsubishi said it had decided to slim down its workforce "on the presupposition that difficult market conditions will persist".

It plans to slash 8,400 jobs in Japan by the end of March 2002 and cut 6,100 jobs overseas.

The announcement is the latest in a series of similar reductions and cost-cutting measures that are part of corporate Japan's efforts to ride out the worst economic slump since World War II.

Electronics giants NEC and Sony recently announced job cuts on a similar scale.

UK impact

A spokesperson said it was too soon to say if the UK workforce would be affected by the latest announcment.

Mitsubishi Electric has already taken a fresh broom to its UK operations over the past year.

In April 1998 it closed a television factory in Haddington, East Lothian with the loss of 500 jobs.

It also shed 350 jobs at its plant in computer components and assembly plant in Gourock, Renfrewshire and cut 25 sales and administration jobs at its UK head office in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, which employs 395 people.

The company presently employs an additional 720 people at an air conditioning plant and video recorder manufacturer in Livingstone, Lothian.

Earlier this month, Mitsubishi Electric announced it was closing its Apricot computers division.

Up to 200 jobs will be lost at the factory in Glenrothes, Fife, by the end of June, in addition to the 200 announced in January.

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