Accessibility links

Breaking News

Japan's Exports Plunge in January

The Japanese economy continues to be rocked by the global recession. Last month exports plunged and the nation's trade deficit hit a record high.

Japan's government says exports dropped by nearly 46 percent in January compared with the same period last year. This bad news was coupled by a record trade deficit of $9.9 billion.

Exports make up the backbone of Japan's economy. It has been that way since the end of the Second World War and has made the country the financial superpower it is today.

But Robert Dujaric, director of the Institute for Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, explains this reliance on exports is what makes the Japanese economy so vulnerable during this worldwide recession.

"Exports have gone down basically because American consumers, European consumers and now consumers from all over the world just have fewer resources to devote to purchasing Japanese exports," he said.

Japan's automakers have all reported a steep decline in exports as demand dries up due to the worsening credit crisis.

And because carmakers, as well as in many other industries, are seeing their profit margins drop, more and more Japanese workers are losing their jobs. Hundreds of thousands have been laid off in just the past few months.

On Wednesday, several Japanese labor organizations rallied in Tokyo. They say unsalaried, temporary employees are suffering the worst due to the company cut-backs.

Yasuyo Ohashi, is a member of Women's Union Tokyo. She says female workers are particularly vulnerable.

Ohashi says companies here think that female part-time workers have husbands who will support them, so they don't mine laying them off.

Tokyo is expected to release new unemployment figures later this week.

One bit of good news for Japan's manufacturers is that the Japanese currency continues to lose ground against the U.S. dollar and Euro, making exports cheaper on the global market.