Major steelmaker NKK Corp. plans to force managers to take two days’ leave — paid at only 65 percent of their normal daily wage — every month in an effort to reduce labor costs, company officials said Friday.

NKK aims to implement the temporary leave program during this fiscal year, they said.

The program will affect section chiefs and employees in higher posts whose wages are considered high, the officials said.

The move is another step to shore up NKK’s business and comes as Japan’s steelmakers face a tight year amid falling product prices and rising material prices.

Many steelmakers are slashing output to stabilize prices, but this could leave them with excess labor. While many firms say they will deal with this problem by reducing overtime hours, the NKK plan may inspire them to take similar steps.

From September 1998 to July 2000, major steelmakers carried out a temporary-leave program of one or two days a month for all employees, while receiving government subsidies for their excess workforce.

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., still in a slump, maintains a monthly one-day leave program at its headquarters and major factories.

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