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The Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to speed up a government program to create 7.4 million new jobs in 15 sectors by 2010, according to Nikkeiren officials.

In a meeting with Obuchi, Nikkeiren Chairman Jiro Nemoto asked the government to work hard to create at least half the planned new jobs by 2000 and the rest by 2005.

Commenting on the unemployment rate, which hit a record high of 4.3 percent in June, Nemoto stressed that the government and private sector must cooperate to tackle rising joblessness, urging the government to pass labor-issue related bills in the Diet as early as possible.

The bills cover revisions to the Labor Standards Law and a law covering temporary staff. The revisions will increase the number of night jobs available to women as well as the types of services offered by temp firms.

Obuchi agreed that the unemployment problem is critical, according to Nemoto. “The Cabinet would like to make efforts to find a new path (to solving the issue) that follows neither the American nor German” unemployment policies, he was quoted as telling Nemoto.

The prime minister also renewed his determination to eliminate concerns over the stability of the nation’s financial system.

To stimulate the economy, Nikkeiren also urged the government to review its housing policy to enable people to purchase homes for around 19.5 million yen about an hour out of major cities.

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