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Meiji Life Insurance Co. and Yasuda Mutual Life Insurance Co. will hire 10,000 sales representatives by the end of this year to bring their combined marketing force to 45,000 before they merge in January, Meiji Life Insurance President Ryotaro Kaneko said Tuesday.

“As the prolonged economic slump has reduced job opportunities for women, it offers good opportunities to hire competent workers,” Kaneko said in an interview with Kyodo News.

Japan’s life insurance companies rely heavily on female workers to sell policies.

According to Kaneko, who will be president of the merged company, Meiji plans to hire 7,000 new workers and Yasuda 3,000.

While the hiring plan covers all 47 prefectures, the target number of new employees by prefecture ranges from about 1,300 in Tokyo to some 70 each in Yamanashi, Fukui and Tottori, Kaneko said. The target also includes about 640 in Kanagawa, some 590 in Hokkaido and about 580 in Aichi.

The planned marketing force of 45,000 is comparable with those of industry leaders Nippon Life Insurance Co. and Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co.

The merger partners decided to increase their combined marketing force in a bid to increase sales of new policies and halt the decrease in the number of insurance contracts since 1997, hoping to realize a net increase in the number in fiscal 2004, Kaneko said.

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