Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Business: The Economy
Record unemployment in Japan
Japan's job centres are busier than ever before
The number of jobless in Japan has hit a new record, with 3.42 million people out of work.
Many industrialised countries would be happy to have such a low level of unemployment, but for a country whose companies were once famous for offering jobs-for-life it is a bitter blow.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi described the figures as "a serious matter".
Mr Sakaiya suggested that more than 100,000 jobs could be created through a mix of deregulation and government subsidies.
Last year, Japan spent some 40 trillion yen ($330bn) to kick-start the economy. Another 60 trillion yen are earmarked to revitalise the country's debt-burdened banks.
However, the impact on the economy has been marginal so far, while dramatically pushing up the government's budget deficit.
Takayo Hayashi, at the Sakura Institute of Research, said unemployment was "likely to continue to be severe for a while as the economy has not hit bottom".
Things are set go get worse, according to Susumo Okano at the Daiwa Institute of Reseach. He predicted a jobless rate of more than 5% by the end of the year, calling the development "inevitable".
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