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Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa on Friday called for drawing up a comprehensive package of measures by mid-June to strengthen industrial competitiveness and tackle growing unemployment.

Miyazawa said at a press conference that it would be “realistic” to compile the package before mid-June, by which time unemployment data for April and economic growth data for the January-March quarter would be released.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi has asked the Competitiveness Commission, an advisory panel of government and business leaders, to draw up measures to strengthen the industrial sector at its next meeting slated for next Thursday.

Speaking at a separate press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka welcomed Miyazawa’s remarks and suggested the possibility of extending the current Diet session, now scheduled to end June 17.

Nonaka said it would be preferable for the government to submit the whole package to the Diet. “Following the proposal of the commission, the government must think about how the bills should be dealt with, how much fiscal expenditure is necessary, and various other issues, especially the unemployment problem,” Nonaka said. “We must also hold discussions and consult the ruling parties.

It would be difficult for the Diet to approve the bills by the end of the current session, which means that extension of the session is most likely inevitable if the government wants timely enactment of the bills.

The measures are expected to include tax breaks to help manufacturers dispose of debt and excess production capacity, but Miyazawa said no supplementary budget is needed to finance the planned measures.

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