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No.90(2012/5/10)
Largest Industrial Federation in Japan to Be Formed in November
Japan Federation of Service and Distributive Workers' Unions (JSD; president: Shoichi Hachino), an industrial labour federation, held an extraordinary general assembly in Tokyo on April 18 at which, it decided by a majority vote to form a new industrial federation with UI ZENSEN (The Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers' Unions; president: Kiyoshi Ochiai).

Following the JSD's decision, the two federations officially agreed to form a new industrial federation on November 6. The new federation will be the largest in Japan with 1.3 million members. (The JSD has 230,000 members; UI ZENSEN has 1,110,000 members)
Consultations between the two federations regarding organizational integration had been ongoing since the mid 2000s. UI ZENSEN had already adopted a resolution for unification at a central committee meeting in January 2012.
With the advent of the largest industrial union, workers can look forward to having a greater voice in management and in improvements of working conditions and the status of non-regular workers.
One of the issues under consideration was the name of the new federation. Eventually, the two unions agreed to retain "The Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers' Unions" as the official name, although its acronym will change to UA ZENSEN.
Hereafter, two federations will launch a preparatory committee for unification in which they draft the constitution, compile a budget, and select candidates for the new executive directors.
The Economic and Labour Situation in Japan (May 2012)
2011 Family Income and Expenditure Survey Shows Decrease in Consumption Expenditure in Real Terms
The Statistics Bureau and the Office of the Director-General for Policy Planning of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan have released the 2011 yearly averages of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey. This survey, which targets a sample of about 9,000 households randomly selected from all households in Japan, is conducted to reveal the actual state of family income and expenditure.

The yearly average of the monthly consumption expenditure per household was 247,219 yen, down by 2.0% in nominal terms and down by 1.7% in real terms from the previous year. The latter showed a decreased for the first time since 2009. The yearly average of the monthly consumption expenditure of workers' households fell by 2.6% in nominal terms and 2.3% in real terms.

The yearly average of the monthly income per workers' household was 462,199 yen, down by 2.0% in nominal terms and down by 1.7% in real terms from the previous year. Among income categories, the regular income of household heads decreased by 1.1% in real terms, and temporary income and bonuses decreased by 4.1% in real terms.

Among expenditure for goods and services, average spending on goods fell by 1.9% in real terms from the previous year. A further breakdown of expenditure reveals that in real terms spending decreased by 9.1% for durable goods, 0.4% for semidurable goods, and 1.3% for nondurable goods. The heavy decrease for durable goods was mainly caused by a substantial drop in expenditure on recreational durable goods, such as TV sets. Average spending on services decreased by 1.1% in real terms.

Industrial Production
Industrial production in March increased by 1.0% over the previous month, registering an increase for the first time in two months and up 13.9% over the previous year. The index in March was 95.3 (seasonally adjusted).
Industries that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) transport equipment, (2) information and communication electronics equipment, (3) ceramics, stone, and clay products, in that order.
Commodities that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) large passenger cars, (2) small passenger cars, (3) drive, transmission, and control parts, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase by 1.0% in April and decrease by 0.7% in May 2012. The survey, which is a useful economic indicator reflecting changing business conditions, provides a clue as to where the economy is heading in the near future.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results
(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in March 2012 was 62.15 million, a decrease of 230,000, or 0.4%, from the previous year.

(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in March 2012 was 3.07 million, a decrease of 150,000, or 4.7%, from the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.5%, the same level as in the previous month.

(10,000 persons)
  March figures Change from previous year
      (%)
Population aged 15 years or more 11,101 -15 -0.1
Labour force 6,521 -39 -0.6
Employed persons 6,215 -23 -0.4
Employees 5,449 -17 -0.3
Unemployed persons 307 -15 -4.7
Not in labour force 4,577 27 0.6
Labour force participation rate (%) 58.7 -0.3 -
Employment rate (%) 56.0 -0.1 -
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 4.7 -0.2 -
  Current month Change from previous month
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 4.5 0.0 -
According to a separate report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, job availability improved slightly in March, with the ratio of job offers to job seekers standing at 0.76, up 0.01 points over the previous month. This figure means that there were 76 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index for Japan in March 2012 was 100.3 (2010=100), up 0.5% over the previous month and up 0.5% over the same month of the previous year.
The preliminary consumer price index for central Tokyo (the 23 special wards) in April 2012 was 99.5 (2010=100), the same level as in the previous month and down 0.3% from the same month of the previous year.
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