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Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Japan PM orders US$204bn more in stimulus measures

AFP , TOKYO

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso yesterday ordered top ruling party officials to put together an additional economic stimulus package to battle the country’s deepening recession.

Aso asked for a draft of an extra budget that will include stimulus measures spread out over several years, and said he would seek expert advice on how to best tackle the problems in Asia’s biggest economy.

“We should not just do it as a political party alone. Rather we should seek counsel from various people, like scholars,” he told reporters.

The package is expected to be worth at least ¥20 trillion (US$204 billion), the Yomiuri Shimbun daily and other media said, quoting unnamed sources within the ruling party.

Previous packages have been a mixture of spending and measures such as loan guarantees to help struggling companies.

Japan’s economy logged its worst performance in almost 35 years in the last quarter of last year, contracting at an annualized pace of 12.1 percent, according to the latest government estimate released on Thursday.

The factory output plunged a record 10.2 percent in January from the previous month as exports collapsed amid a worsening global economic downturn, revised official data showed Friday.

Production fell even more than a first estimate of 10 percent, the trade and industry ministry reported.

Japanese manufacturers have slashed jobs and idled plants as the global downturn batters exports and sends Asia’s largest economy deep into recession.

Aso previously announced in December a stimulus package worth ¥23 trillion, in addition to a ¥26.9 trillion boost unveiled in October.

The latest package is likely to include fast-tracking express railway construction, earthquake-proofing for school buildings, environmental measures and social welfare programs such as child and elderly care, reports said.

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