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The government urged business leaders Tuesday to boost employment opportunities for high school graduates and other juveniles who find it increasingly difficult to find jobs.

The request was made at a meeting in Tokyo between senior government officials and business leaders. Participants said the business leaders promised to try their best and get industry groups involved.

The government delegation included Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Atsuko Toyama.

The business group included Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, and senior officials from other industry bodies, including the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Federation of Small Business Associations.

This is the first time both the labor and education ministers have jointly asked industry bodies to boost jobs specifically for juveniles.

Sakaguchi told the meeting he wants companies to hire minors on a trial basis, while Toyama called for the introduction of internship programs.

According to labor ministry officials, only 33.4 percent of high school students planning to graduate next March received informal job offers as of the end of September, down 3.6 percentage points from a year earlier, marking the lowest percentage ever.

The situation was especially severe in Hokkaido, at 12.8 percent, and northern Kyushu and Tohoku, at the 20 percent level.

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