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The nation’s leading manufacturers eliminated 117,600 workers in fiscal 2002, a credit-research agency said Wednesday, citing the results of a survey.

The cuts brought the combined workforce of the 930 manufacturers traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to 1,889,830 employees during the year, Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. said.

The agency attributed the decline to cuts in personnel expenses and unprofitable business divisions being closed down due to flagging sales.

“The employment environment has remained harsh, although expectations are growing that an economic rebound is on its way,” an agency official said.

Of the 930 firms, 78 percent cut jobs during fiscal 2002.

NEC Corp. cut the most jobs, with its workforce plummeting by 7,747, followed by Hitachi Ltd., Fujitsu Ltd. and Toshiba Corp., the firm said.

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