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Obituary: Mr. Sasamori, Former President of RENGO
It is with immense sorrow that JILAF has to inform our friends throughout the world of the death of Mr. Kiyoshi Sasamori, former president of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation). Mr. Sasamori passed away on June 4, 2011, at the age of 70.

Mr. Sasamori was elected as the third general secretary of RENGO in 1997 and then as the fourth president of RENGO in 2001. During his leadership of RENGO until 2005, social and economic conditions in Japan and throughout the world underwent dramatic changes, as seen in the rapid advance of globalization, the rampancy of market fundamentalism, and the expansion of disparities. As a trade union leader, Mr. Sasamori resolutely challenged these changes.

In October 2001 Mr. Sasamori announced RENGO's "Vision Toward the 21st Century," in which he proposed a "welfare-type society centered on work" as the image of society that RENGO should aim to realize. Amid a decreasing number of trade union members due to economic deflation and rampant neo-liberalist approaches taken by the governments at that time, he also concentrated his activities on invigorating the RENGO movement by expanding its membership. He continuously called for the revitalization of the Japanese trade union movement by organizing nonregular workers, workers in small and medium-sized enterprises, and workers in nonmetropolitan regional areas. In two years during his presidency, he visited around 2,000 local cities and towns in Japan to promote unionization campaigns.

Taking its cue from Mr. Sasamori's "Vision Toward the 21st Century," in December 2010 RENGO defined the image of society that it would aim to realize in the future as a "secure society built around work as its axis." Mr. Sasamori's spirit is very much alive in today's RENGO movement.

Mr. Sasamori also contributed to the international trade union movement as vice-president of the former International Confederation of Free Trade Unions(ICFTU) and vice-president of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD-TUAC).

After his resignation from the RENGO presidency, Mr. Sasamori served as president of the Central Council of Workers' Welfare Associations of Japan. He consistently longed for a change of power in Japan. After the establishment of a government led by the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009, he was appointed as a special advisor to the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan in October 2010, directly giving advice to the prime minister on such issues as employment and social security.

May his soul rest in peace.
The Economic and Labour Situation in Japan
Industrial Production
Industrial production appears sluggish at a low level due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, but it is expected to recover gradually.

Industrial production in April increased 1.0% over the previous month, registering an increase for the first time in two months. It showed a decrease of 14.0% from the previous year. The index in April was 83.5 (seasonally adjusted).

Industries that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) general machinery, (2) other manufacturing, and (3) electrical machinery, in that order.

Commodities that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) parts and accessories of steam turbines, (2) semiconductor products machinery, and (3) analytical instruments, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 8.0% in May and also to rise 7.7% in June.

Family Income and Expenditure Survey in April
(1) Expenditure for two-or-more-person households The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household for April was 292,559 yen, down 2.5% in nominal terms and down 3.0% in real terms from the same month in the previous year.

(2) Income and expenditures for workers' households The average monthly income per household stood at 454,433 yen, down 4.3% in nominal terms and down 4.8% in real terms from the same month in the previous year. The average monthly consumption expenditure per household was 324,744 yen, down 2.1% in nominal terms and down 2.6% in real terms from the previous year.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results

Since March 2011, labour force survey results for the whole of Japan have been published excluding the three prefectures that suffered the most damage in the disaster (Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima). Therefore, the time series data for the whole of Japan has not been connected to past series.

For comparison, retroactive data (from January 2009 through February 2011) are also shown in the tables below. "Change from previous year" indicates differences between data excluding the three prefectures.

(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in April 2011 was 59.94 million, an increase of 70,000, or 0.1%, over the previous year.

(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in April 2011 was 3.09 million, a decrease of 300,000, or 8.8%, from the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.7%.

(10,000 persons)
  Actual figures Change from previous year
Population aged 15 years or over 10,553 3 0.0
Labour force 6,302 -24 -0.4
Employed persons 5,994 7 0.1
Employees 5,236 21 0.4
Unemployed persons 309 -30 -8.8
Not in labour force 4,247 31 0.7
Labour force participation rate (%) 59.7 -0.3 -
Employment rate (%) 56.8 0.1 -
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 4.9 -0.5 -
  Current month Change from previous month(%)
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 4.7 0.1 -
According to a separate report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, job availability did not improve very much in April, with the ratio of job offers to job seekers standing at 0.61, down 0.02 points from the previous month. This figure means that there were 61 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index for Japan in April 2011 was 99.9 (2005=100), up 0.3% over the previous month and up 0.3% over the previous year.
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