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Last updated at 17:38 GMT, Sunday, 01 March 2009

Production gloom in Japan

Summary

27 February 2009

Japanese industrial output fell by a record 10 percent in January, yet more evidence that the world's second largest economy is being hit hard by the slowdown.

Reporter:
Roland Buerk in Tokyo

Consumers around the world no longer want to buy Japanese cars

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Report

The drop in industrial production of 10 percent in January was even worse than the decline in December - setting a new and grim record as Japan sinks into its worst economic crisis since the Second World War.

The latest figures come just days after the Government said exports had nearly halved. Consumers around the world afraid of losing their jobs in the downturn no longer want to buy Japanese electronic gadgets and cars. The Japanese themselves are also shopping less - average household spending fell 5.9 percent in January compared to the same month a year earlier. Jobs are being slashed - the number of people unemployed rose by more than 200,000.

Japan was once seen as relatively immune to the global crisis because its banks are not as exposed to bad loans as those in the United States or Europe. But its reliance on foreign markets to drive its economy out of a long slump in the 1990s has left it painfully exposed. In the last quarter of last year Japan's economy shrank by 3.3 percent, a far sharper decline than in the United States or Europe.

Roland Buerk, BBC News, Tokyo

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Vocabulary

drop
reduction, becoming smaller
decline
reduction, becoming smaller
setting a new and grim record
here, showing that Japan's levels of production are worse than ever before
sinks into
enters, begins to experience (something bad)
gadgets
devices or machines, usually small, that are used for a particular purpose or to perform a particular task
slashed
cut, closed
relatively immune to
not easily affected by
exposed to
affected by (here, in a negative way)
to drive its economy out of a long slump
to help its economy to recover while it was in a long downturn
shrank
reduced, became smaller