Japan To Focus On Employment To Bolster Economy

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government decided Tuesday at a key economic policy panel to focus on expanding job opportunities for the younger generation and enhancing ties with Asian neighbors to steer itself out of the global economic downturn.

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, headed by Prime Minister Taro Aso, also said boosting private investments to stem carbon dioxide emissions will be another priority when the government compiles the fiscal 2010 budget.

The provisions were part of the latest draft of the government's annual fiscal policy guidelines due out later this month, which was approved by the panel. The draft also includes Japan's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, which Aso laid out last week.

According to the draft, Japan will aim to achieve a surplus in the primary balance -- revenue matching spending, excluding debt payments -- at both national and local levels by the end of fiscal 2019.

It will also aim to halve the ratio of the primary balance deficit to the nation's gross domestic product by the end of March 2014, the draft says.

The government has recently toned down its target as the country grapples with swelling public spending to cover social security costs and finance stimulus measures to combat the economic recession.

But the draft suggested the government will maintain its basic policy to stem ballooning social security costs, which was advocated by the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who was in office from 2001 to 2006.

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