In October 2011, a new system started to help job seekers not covered by unemployment insurance. Under this system, unemployed people who have registered themselves with public employment security offices (PESOs) and meet certain conditions can join job training courses for up to two years while receiving ¥100,000 per month as well as a transportation allowance.

For fiscal 2011 ending at the end of March 2012, the government has a budget large enough to cover 126,000 unemployed people in this system. It has so far officially recognized job-training courses for some 45,000 people as suitable for the system. The system is aimed at helping unemployed people who were never covered by unemployment insurance, unemployed people whose unemployment insurance coverage has expired, self-employed people who were forced to shutter their businesses and recent school graduates who have been unable to find work.

It is hoped that as many unemployed people as possible will take advantage of this new system and that the system will provide unemployed people with a high level of motivation and lead to employment opportunities.

There are two types of job training courses. One is to teach trainees basic job skills. The other is to teach trainees both basic and advanced job skills. PESOs develop training plans for individual trainees and help them find employment once training is over. Across the nation, there are some 500 courses, covering such fields as nursing-care services, computer operation, clerical work at medical institutions, information technology, and so forth.

In the social safety net system, the new support system lies between unemployment insurance and the livelihood assistance, the latter being the last resort for people with very little or no income. As of September 2011, a record 2,065,896 people were covered by the livelihood assistance. Among them were the so-called working poor.

The jobless rate in November was 4.5 percent. The rate of job availability was 0.69 (for one job seeker, there was 0.69 job offers), pointing to a tough situation faced by job seekers. Future prospects are not good due to the strong yen and continuing deflation.

It is imperative that the central government pushes an economic policy that will result in an increase in employment. Local governments should consider creating projects that directly hire people.

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