Japan’s fifth largest steel maker Kobe Steel will cut 1700 workers in Japan, or 6% of its global work force, to reduce costs in an industry hard hit by sliding steel prices and declining demand. The job cuts, which are part of the company’s business plan, will be completed by March 2003, slashing its Japanese work force to 14,000. The reduction will be carried out through natural attrition and transfers to affiliated companies, spokesman Gary Tsuchida said. Kobe Steel employs 30,000 people world-wide. The company will also cut all employees’ annual salaries by 5% in the fiscal year beginning next April. Directors’ salaries will be trimmed by an additional 10%, it said. Among the plan’s other measures is a cutback in research and development. Earlier this month, Kobe Steel lowered its earnings forecast for this fiscal year to breaking even from an earlier forecast for a profit of JPY 7 billion.