Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic is cutting about 17,000 jobs and closing up to 70 factories around the world over the next two years, according to Reuters. Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo said the company will streamline operations to boost profitability, including selling some of its businesses, and reduce its nearly 367,000 workers to 350,000 by the fiscal year ending in March 2013.

Panasonic has been steadily trimming its workforce to reduce costs so that it can compete with other electronics companies. About a year ago it had 385,000 workers. Panasonic said a strong yen, which hurts Japanese exporters by decreasing the value of their overseas earnings, slashed its fiscal year operating profit by 43.9 billion yen ($539 million). In its last quarter, Panasonic reported a 40.7 billion yen ($499 million) loss, compared to a 8.89 billion yen ($108.98 million) loss for the same period the previous year, and its global sales dipped 7 percent on-year to 2.04 trillion yen ($25 billion).

This year's loss was largely due to 61 billion yen ($748 million) in restructuring costs, the company said, as well as the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, which cost the company 21 billion yen ($258 million) in operating profit. The disasters stalled production because of parts shortages and curbed consumer spending amid the ensuing nuclear reactor crisis.

This news is not too surprising given that Panasonic added the Japanese battery and solar-panel maker Sanyo as a subsidiary in December 2009. There's always redundancy and restructuring when such large companies being to work as one. Still, job cuts are always a sad event and our condolences go out to the families affected.