Japan's economy contracts sharply

Japan's economy contracts sharply

Japan is in its worst economic mess for more than thirty years.

Protesting Japanese workers

Laid-off workers protest in front of Japan's biggest business lobby, the Keidanren, in Tokyo

In the past few weeks major Japanese companies like Nissan and Panasonic have announced tens of thousands of job cuts, so the news that the country is deep in recession does not come as enormous shock.

But the latest GDP numbers show that Japan's economy shrank by 3.3% in the last quarter of 2008, which means Japan's economy is shrinking more steeply than economies in Europe or the US because of the global economic slowdown. The figures are the worst for 35 years - the worst since the oil-price shock of the 1970s.

The BBC's correspondent in Tokyo Roland Buerk looks at the human cost of this recession.

Listen Listen to Roland Buerk's report from Tokyo (3 mins 23 secs)

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Protesting Japanese workers

Despite these latest GDP figures, some commentators say that although the figures are bad, they are not quite as bad as had been feared.

Martin Schultz is the director of economics at the Fujitsu research institute in Tokyo.

Listen Hear Martin Schultz's interview (2 mins 21 secs)

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First broadcast on World Business News on 16 February 2009