TOKYO (AP) — French President Francois Hollande sought reassure Japanese business leaders Saturday that the eurozone debt crisis is over but acknowledged that steps to boost the region’s growth and competitiveness need to be taken.
“What you need to understand here in Japan is that the crisis in Europe is over. And that we can work together, France and Japan, to open new doors for economic progress,” he said in the speech at the Imperial Hotel organized by The Nikkei, a major financial newspaper.
Although the eurozone debt crisis that erupted at the end of 2009 has eased, the region’s collective economy has shrunk for six straight quarters and unemployment has reached 12.2 percent, the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999.
Hollande called Japan an “exceptional partner” and urged both countries to invest more in each other.
“Unemployment has reached a new high in the euro zone and inflation remains well below the European Central Bank’s target, stepping up pressure on EU leaders and the ECB for action to revive the bloc’s sickly economy. Joblessness in the 17-nation currency area rose to 12.2 percent in April, EU statistics office Eurostat said on Friday, marking a new record since the data series began in 1995.
Economists and policymakers including Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, have said the greatest menace to the unity of the euro zone is now social breakdown from the crisis, rather than market-driven factors.
In France, Europe’s second largest economy, the number of jobless rose to a record in April, while in Italy, the unemployment rate hit its highest level in at least 36 years, with 40 percent of young people out of work.”