Japan Unemployment Rises, Consumer Prices Fall

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan's unemployment rate hit a six-year high of 5.4 percent in June.

The jobless figures were up two-tenths of a percent from May after holding at that rate for three months.

Nearly 3.5 million Japanese were unemployed in June, an increase of 830,000 or more than 30 percent from the previous year, according to the ministry, CNN International reports.

Meanwhile the jobless rate is expected to climb above 6.0 percent early next year, said Hiroshi Shiraishi, an economist at BNP Paribas.

"A lot of large corporations have been holding off slashing regular workers. But as it becomes clear that sales aren't going to recover much they will eventually have to start more aggressive restructuring," he said, AFP reports.

There were only 43 job offers for every 100 job seekers, a record low and down from 44 the previous month.

Hopes are mounting that the economy has come through the worst of its downturn, but unemployment tends to lag behind economic growth in recovering from a recession.

Despite the worsening jobs market, Japanese household spending increased 0.2 per cent in June from a year earlier, adjusted for price changes, Aljazeera.net reports.

Japan's key consumer price index (CPI) fell for the 4th straight month in June, down by a record 1.7 percent year-on-year since official record began in 1971, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report Friday.

The nationwide core CPI, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, stood at 100.3, compared with 100 for the base year of 2005.

Prices of heating oil plunged 40.7 percent and gasoline price fell 29.5 percent. And those of consumer appliances such as televisions and personal computers also continued to fall sharply, Xinhua reports.