Noda's Democratic Party of Japan is struggling as the Liberal Democrats gain in power. He was obliged to present his policy speech Monday in the House of Representatives after the LDP, which controls the upper house of the parliament, blocked him from delivering the speech in that chamber.

Apart from the political mess, exports, usually a bright spot for Japan's economy, are faltering as the prolonged crisis in Europe crimps demand. Another problem is the persistent strength of the yen, which makes products made in Japan relatively more expensive in overseas markets.

Shipments of passenger cars dropped 12.6 percent in September from August and 13.2 percent from a year earlier, METI reported. Shipments of virtually all other products also fell.

Jobless rate figures for September likewise offered little encouragement, as the government reported the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in September, unchanged from August.

The ratio of job offers to seekers fell to 0.81 from 0.83 in August, meaning there were 81 jobs for every 100 job seekers.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform