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Popular Dwango to charge job applicant fee to narrow field

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

Internet firm Dwango Co. has announced that it will charge a fee of ¥2,525 for students applying for entry-level jobs at the company.

The move, announced last week, is intended to narrow the pool of applicants to “only those who are serious about working with the firm,” Dwango says on its website.

The firm, which runs the popular video-sharing site niconico, goes on to explain that the Internet has made job hunting so easy that it has resulted in a surge in the number of applications filed by each job seeker.

“Today, thanks to the Internet, a student can easily submit applications at 100 companies,” the firm stated. “From the employers’ perspective, due to the huge number of applicants, the hiring process has become too time-consuming. It is hard for them to figure out who they really need. This has been a problem both for job seekers and employers, which we wanted to raise questions about.”

The fee will affect students living in Tokyo and Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures looking to start work in spring 2015, the company says. It won’t apply the fee to students from other areas because “job seekers in the countryside are disadvantaged in terms of time and money.”

A ban on hiring activities by large businesses, enforced through a gentleman’s agreement, was lifted Dec. 1 for students scheduled to graduate in March 2015.

Dwango said it doesn’t intend to make money out of this possibly controversial move.

“All of the application fees collected will be donated to a scholarship fund or something,” the website says.

Some observers see this as another shrewd PR tactic by the firm, as the figure 2,525 can be read in Japanese as “ni-go-ni-go,” a possible pun on niconico.

However, a labor ministry official said the government will carefully weigh Dwango’s move.

“The Employment Security Law prohibits (employers) from charging fees from disadvantaged parties in the name of recruiting,” the official said.

“Even regarding fees for job screenings, if a firm is found to be collecting unnecessary costs as fees, it could potentially be in conflict with the law. Companies, meanwhile, have freedom in hiring, and it is true that having too many applicants incurs costs for the firms. We would like to judge the Dwango case after learning how the firm operates.”