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The Economy Continues to Bleed

June 8, 2009

The news articles this morning had conflicting stories of how the Japanese are being affected by the economic downturn. The Asahi ran a miraculous headline stating “record catches of black tuna found in Ishikawa Prefecture.” They also stated, although not in a headline, that the Nikkei average had bounced back over the past couple days.

Despite some exceptions, the headlines this morning each told of a different part of the economy sputtering. Looks like in Japanese economic news, what still catches reader’s eyes follows the old saying “if it bleeds it leads.”

Yomiuri “Record Bankruptices” The rate for bankruptcies among Japanese companies in May had increased by 6.3%, as compared with the previous month, April. The total bankruptcies now in Japan number 1,057, which has already surpassed the number of companies that went bankrupt in 2008. Debt held by Japanese companies has also increased by 6.3%.

Despite these dire numbers, the Yomiuri adds that although the number of bankruptcies continues to go up, they’re increasing at a slower pace. In April, there was 15.4% more bankruptcies than March. The rate of bankruptcies is going down, they claim, due to the government’s rescue package and stimulus that tries to decrease the amount of bankruptcies.

AsahiWorkers are More Depressed” The Asahi reported that stress from overwork in 2008 was the highest it’s ever been, with 269 cases diagnosed. Within these numbers, 66 were reported to commit suicide, which is the second highest number on record. The report said that the work environment is getting more intense.

When the companies let people go, the employees that are left behind have more responsibility, and more work hours. The report concluded that 60% of the people diagnosed with stress from work worked over 100 hours a week! The people who worked over 160 hours a week, only 24 responded they had stress related symptoms from overwork.

Nikkei “World Economic Slowdown is the Worst Ever” The Nikkei not only focused on dire Japanese news but also highlighted that the world economy as a whole is slowing down. They quoted the report put out by the OECD that measures the economic growth rate of developed nations that includes Europe, the U.S., and Japan. From January to March of 2009, they estimated that combined GDP fell 2.1%, the lowest on record since the measurements began, in 1980.

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