The nation’s largest labor organization called on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday to help stave off joblessness via a special law and a supplementary budget for fiscal 2001.

Etsuya Washio, head of the 8 million-member Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), made the request in a document handed to Koizumi during the first meeting between the group’s chief and a prime minister in two years.

Rengo requested that “an emergency law to curb unemployment be drawn up and a supplementary budget be compiled to swiftly carry out steps against unemployment,” according to a copy of the document handed to Koizumi.

The last time Rengo and government leaders held a meeting was in June 1999. Meetings between the two sides, which had been held about three times a year, were suspended due to a row over a bill to revise the nation’s pension system.

Washio said in the meeting that he “very much regrets” that a meeting has not been held for two years and accused the government of not recognizing the need for dialogue.

Koizumi was quoted as telling Washio that he plans to listen to Rengo’s opinions while implementing a reform agenda on the nation’s long-struggling economy, according to the official.

Monday’s meeting comes at a time when Japan’s jobless rate appears set to hit a record high.

Government sources said last week that Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is certain to hit 5 percent in an official report for July, due out today.

A 5 percent unemployment rate would be the highest level since the government began reporting monthly jobless figures in 1953.

The government has repeatedly said it sees the 5 percent level as the threshold for taking drastic employment measures, including safety nets for the unemployed through such means as an extra budget for the current fiscal year.

Supplementary budget

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday it is not yet time to discuss the specifics or timing of a possible supplementary budget for the current fiscal year that would be aimed at revving up the faltering economy.

“I will think about what effective measures can be taken, looking at the economic situation,” the prime minister told reporters at his official residence.

“I don’t think we are at a stage where specific measures or the timing should be discussed.”

Calls have been growing in the ruling bloc to compile an extra budget to shore up the nation’s economy as Koizumi moves ahead with reforms.

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