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Archive for Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Job cuts increasing ranks of homeless in Japan

February 17, 2009

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— In corporate Japan, losing your job can mean losing your home as well.

As major companies cut their workforces in the economic downturn, many Japanese workers are finding themselves out on the street because they have to move out of company-run dormitories.

In a country where lifetime employment has long been held up as an idealized standard, Japanese are finding out fast that the unemployment safety net for part-time, temporary or contract workers has become painfully obsolete.

On Monday, the government reported that the Japanese economy shrank at its fastest rate in 35 years in the fourth quarter — at an annual pace of 12.7 percent — and shows no signs of reversing course anytime soon. It is more than triple the 3.8 percent annualized contraction in the U.S. in the same quarter.

According to the latest government estimates, released last month, some 125,000 part-time workers will lose their jobs by March. Labor officials cannot follow what happens to all those who lose their employment, but of the 45,800 who have been tracked, the government found 2,700 became homeless.

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