Labor Minister Akira Amari urged industrial sector leaders Thursday to refrain from payroll cuts, pointing to bleak prospects for the nation’s job situation.

“Although the economy finally appears to be bottoming out, we still expect further worsening of the job situation,” Amari said during a meeting of his private advisory council on labor policies, consisting of representatives from the industrial sector and labor unions as well as scholars.

“I do hope that companies regard payrolls as the last thing to touch,” he said.

The council, headed by Isamu Miyazaki, former director general of the Economic Planning Agency, held the meeting at a Tokyo hotel to exchange views on measures to cope with the unemployment situation.

Labor union representatives meanwhile called on the government to clearly set a goal and course to reach in carrying out measures to boost the job market.

Referring to the government panel on industrial competitiveness, Kiyoshi Sasamori, secretary general of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), called for greater focus on the job situation.

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