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Struggling automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Tuesday it will introduce an early retirement program to phase out up to 1,200 jobs.

The program will be offered to workers 40 or older who have been with the automaker for at least 10 years, the automaker said. About 9,000 of its 24,700 current employees will qualify.

Mitsubishi Motors will accept applications in August and November, and will pay additional retirement allowances worth four to 48 months worth of wages, or 1.6 million yen to 20 million yen, to those who leave the company at the end of September and December.

Although the company plans to eliminate about 800 jobs through the program, it will raise the number to 1,200 if more applications than anticipated are received.

The program also includes a leave of absence for up to one year, during which workers would seek new jobs while receiving 80 percent of their monthly wages. People choosing this option will be eligible for additional retirement allowances if they leave the company by the end of the year.

Mitsubishi Motors has allotted 10 billion yen to finance the program in the 2001 business year, which ends next March.

The Tokyo-based automaker is promoting personnel cuts as part of efforts to turn its operations around. In the January-March period it implemented an early retirement program targeting about 2,800 managerial workers, 209 of whom left the company at the end of March.

Mitsubishi Motors incurred a record consolidated net loss of 278.14 billion yen in 2000, putting it in the red for the second straight year on lower sales and extraordinary losses, including those related to a scandal involving a coverup of customer complaints.

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