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Aso issues details of bid to beat recession

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled details of a new stimulus package yesterday, calling for 15 trillion yen (US$150 billion) in government spending to lift the world's second-largest economy from recession.

The package, equivalent to about 3 percent of Japan's gross domestic product, is intended to ward off further economic deterioration, protect people's livelihoods and foster future growth, Aso said in a televised speech.

It is also part of the global effort to spur a broad recovery, he said.

Japan's GDP shrank an alarming annual rate of 12.1 percent in the October-December quarter.

Since Aso took office in September, two stimulus packages worth 12 trillion yen in fiscal spending have been approved.

"But the rapid deterioration in Japan's economy continues due to the downturn in exports and production," he said. "The labor market is also quickly deteriorating."

The measures include support for the jobless, help for small businesses and steps to bolster nursing and medical services.

It also calls for a government-affiliated entity to buy stocks from the market to stem steep equity declines.

The plan is worth 57 trillion yen overall including non-spending items such as tax cuts and credit guarantees. The new steps will be partially funded by issuing bonds.

Japan's public debt now runs at 170 percent of GDP - the highest level among industrialized economies.


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