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Japanese Politicians May Soon Feel Recession Pinch - 2002-01-17


Japanese politicians may soon feel the pinch of recession. Their six figure salaries will likely be cut for the first time in more than 50 years.

Japanese lawmakers are among the best paid in the world. They earn almost $190,000 per year. But Japan's leading political party, the Liberal Democrats, says that is too much given the woeful state of the nation's economy. The party has proposed trimming legislators' salaries by 10 percent.

Government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda says that the move is meant to show the public that politicians are sharing the pain of the economic downturn. He says that "the government is asking people to live with difficult economic conditions, so a salary cut is appropriate."

Opposition legislators have also accepted the idea. Together with the ruling coalition, they will submit a bill to Parliament to introduce lower salaries for lawmakers from April, for a period of at least one year. The bill is expected to be passed soon.

In recent months, some lawmakers strongly opposed the idea of lower pay, but Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warned them not to sit idly by as companies fold and unemployment rises.

Some members of the public say they are unsatisfied with the proposal and believe the legislators' pay cut should be deeper.

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