Japan's jobless desperate as recession drags on

Wed Sep 9, 2009 1:48am EDT
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By Colin Parrott

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Kamematsu Morimoto had a job that comfortably supported his family of six in Japan's car manufacturing hub until the global economic crisis struck, leaving him, and thousands of others, without work.

In the midst of Japan's worst recession since World War Two, companies have laid off more than 230,000 contract workers in the year since the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers last year tipped the world into recession.

That has helped push Japan's jobless rate to a record high 5.7 percent.

"I look for work everyday but I just can't find anything," said Morimoto, a 55-year-old grandfather of two who had to sell the family car to qualify for welfare.

"My employment insurance ran out at the end of June, so I'm living on welfare now."

Coping with the unemployment crisis will be a big challenge for incoming prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party is expected to usher in a government pledged to pay more heed to the rights of consumers and workers.

The Democrats have pledged a ban on sending temporary workers to manufacturers, a move unions welcome but companies warn will push factories to relocate overseas, threatening more job losses.

Japan's economy has shown some signs of emerging from recession. Toyota Motor Corp announced this week that it would hire about 800 temporary workers in October to meet production demand as global auto sales gradually recover.   Continued...