Japan’s production in historic plunge amid global slump

Japan’s production in historic plunge amid global slump

Tokyo: Japanese production fell at the fastest rate on record in November as firms closed factories and cut jobs due to slumping demand brought on by the global economic crisis, according to data out on Friday.

Industrial output in the world’s second largest economy plunged a record 8.1% in November from the previous month, the ministry of economy, trade and industry said.

It was the biggest drop since the ministry began releasing output statistics in 1953 and was much worse than market forecasts of a 6.7% fall.

Production is likely to continue falling, with the ministry expecting an 8.0% drop in December and another 2.1% decline in January, as the auto industry feels the pinch.

“Overall, production is rapidly falling," the ministry said.

Unemployment meanwhile rose to 3.9% in November, worsening 0.2 percentage points from the previous month, the internal affairs ministry said.

The figure was slightly below average market forecasts of 4.0%.

The number of people out of work increased by 100,000 from a year earlier to a total of 2.56 million.

The data came as brand-name Japanese manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and Canon Inc., lower production and eliminate jobs to adjust to the slump in overseas demand for their exports.

The job cuts have targeted mainly people on limited-term contracts or those who were dispatched from temp agencies.

The labour ministry said that a total of 85,012 temporary or dispatch workers have already lost their jobs or know they will be laid off by March.

The figure doubled in a month, reflecting the rapid deterioration of the employment environment for people without permanent contracts, a health ministry official said.

In other data, Japan said that core consumer prices rose 1.0% in November from a year earlier although they eased by 0.8 percent from the previous month.

Core consumer prices have been rising for more than a year, albeit at a slower pace than before as global energy prices come down.

Japan for a decade battled deflation, or falling prices, which sapped