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In December 2012, job opportunities in Japan's once flourishing manufacturing sector dropped below 10 million for the first time in over 50 years. Official data shows that the number of workers in industry jobs fell to 9.98 million in the month, the lowest since 1961.
The news come at a time when the newly formed government has pledged to aid the sluggish economy and spur job growth. Companies in Japan are increasingly shipping manufacturing jobs abroad to lower costs. Competition is also fierce from countries such as China and Taiwan.
“During the post-war era, Japan enjoyed significant standing in manufacturing. Gradually it has been reduced as relocation of factories overseas continues. We must think about ways to keep manufacturing in Japan,” said labour minister, Norihisa Tamura.
The Japanese manufacturing sector has declined by -40% from 16 million workers in 1992. Only 16% of today’s labour force work in manufacturing, compared to 27% 40 years ago.
Japan’s unemployment rate reached 4.2% in December, rising from 4.1% from the previous month. But throughout 2012, the jobless rate dropped to an average of 4.3%, seeing two straight years of improvement.