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Japan PM orders new economic measures

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda orders his new economy minister to draw up a package of measures to shore up economic growth and ease the pain of soaring oil prices.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2008 10:20 IST

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Monday ordered his new economy minister to draw up a package of measures to shore up economic growth and ease the pain of soaring oil prices.

"As Japan is facing economic difficulties, I think the prime minister realises that the government needs to take all possible preemptive action," said Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano.

"I will draw up a framework of new measures by the middle of this month," he told reporters after meeting with Fukuda.

The steps, aimed at tackling slowing economic growth and rising oil prices, are expected to include support for small businesses and farmers.

Fukuda reshuffled his cabinet on Friday in a last-ditch effort to revive his waning public support, vowing to revitalise the Asia's largest economy and to fight higher commodity prices.

"I will firmly take emergency measures for people who are seriously affected by abnormal oil prices," the prime minister said on Saturday.

The popularity of the 72-year-old centrist had plunged since he took over last September as voters have been left feeling worse off because of rising global oil and food prices.

Japan has already unveiled measures to ease the burden of high oil prices, including a 74.5 billion yen (690 million dollars) package announced last week to help fishermen, who have held strikes to protest against soaring fuel costs.

Resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of crude oil, the price of which has doubled over the past two years and risen five-fold since 2003.