TOKYO (AP) _ The Japanese economy is still in the doldrums, but government efforts to spur growth are leading to signs of a recovery, the finance minister told Parliament on Monday.
Japan is struggling to emerge from its deepest recession in 50 years, with unemployment hovering around record highs. The government has embarked on a huge spending program to revive the economy.
Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said the picture remained grim.
``The Japanese economy, as seen in the weak levels of personal consumption and capital expenditures and in the high unemployment rate, is still in a severe situation,″ Miyazawa said in a speech to parliament.
Still, he said, the 1.9 percent growth in the nation’s economy in the first three months of the year shows that ``some bright signs are beginning to be seen.″
Miyazawa also said the large budget for the fiscal year that began April 1 and steps to provide money for financial sector stability should also help strengthen the economy.
The finance minister urged Parliament to pass a $4.25 billion supplementary budget aimed at bolstering the nation’s ailing labor market. The Cabinet approved the plan last week.
The supplementary budget is meant to finance the government’s plan to create about 720,000 jobs through measures such as subsidies to companies and nonprofit organizations for hiring displaced workers.
``The government perceives coping with the current severe employment situation as its most urgent and important task,″ Miyazawa was quoted as saying by Kyodo News agency.