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OSAKA (Kyodo) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is calling on workers in its consumer electronics divisions in Japan to consider early retirement as the firm plans to cut about 1,000 jobs, company officials said Tuesday.

Matsushita has started an early retirement program at Panasonic AVC Networks Co., which develops and produces products that include DVDs and flat-screen TVs, and Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., a maker of cell phones.

About 1,000 employees of the units’ combined workforce of 19,000 throughout Japan are expected to apply for the program, the officials said.

While it expects sales and profit growth for the current fiscal year ending in March, Matsushita plans to restructure to survive the fierce competition in consumer electronics, they said.

Profit margins have declined for flat-screen TVs and other items, the officials said. Matsushita and its allies supporting plasma flat-screen TVs are in fierce competition with Sharp Corp. and other firms.

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