Yen fall spurs Japan fishermen to rally for state help to offset high fuel prices

JIJI

Members of Japanese fisheries cooperatives staged a rally Wednesday in Tokyo to seek full-scale financial help from the government as rising fuel prices due to the rapid depreciation of the yen hits the industry.

As many as 2,500 fishermen from across the country took part in the rally organized by the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, or JF Zengyoren.

“We have continued striving to save energy and cut costs, but the efforts have been more than offset by the rising costs for fuel for fishing boats,” JF Zengyoren leader Ikuhiro Hattori said at the outset of the rally.

He thus complained that the side effects of “Abenomics,” the aggressive economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are hurting the fishing industry.

Shuichi Yoshioka, head of the National Federation of Medium Trawlers, said, “With current levels of fuel prices, it is difficult to continue fishing operations.”

The protesters then marched around the office of the prime minister and the Diet.

When fuel prices surged in 2008, some 200,000 fishing boats suspended operations.

This time the industry plans to hold street rallies across the nation between late May and early June. On Wednesday, fishermen called for public support in Tokyo’s Ginza district and in 18 other prefectures.

The industry has a fund set up jointly with the government on a 50-50 basis to help fishermen cover part of their fuel costs when prices soar.

The Fisheries Agency is considering increasing the state’s share in the financial support if fuel prices exceed a certain point.

JF Zengyoren, however, is demanding that the government cover all of the fuel cost increases resulting from the yen’s recent depreciation. The yen’s fall since November has pushed up the prices of fuel for fishing boats by ¥15 per liter, it said.