• Kyodo

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German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Friday his country’s high unemployment stems from the weak Japanese and U.S. economies, blaming them for the bleak prospects of achieving his election pledge of cutting the number of jobless to 3.5 million.

“It could have been attained without the economic slowdown in Japan and the United States,” Schroeder said in an interview with ZDF public TV.

Schroeder was referring to July job data released Tuesday, which showed that the number of people out of work rose by 104,300 from June to 3.8 million. The latest figure dashed hopes of attaining his reduction target by parliamentary elections in the fall of next year.

Many economists said the high unemployment reflects Germany’s failure to reform an inflexible labor market and economic structure that relies heavily on exports.

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