• Kyodo

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The economy in Aichi Prefecture is getting a new burst of energy from the ongoing World Exposition and a newly opened international airport. Yet it is also facing an unexpected problem.

The six-month expo, which runs until Sept. 25, and the opening of the Central Japan International Airport, known as Centrair, on Feb. 17 are giving an economic boost to the prefecture that is home to Toyota Motor Corp. But the Chubu region, which includes Nagoya, does not have enough workers.

The problem is not only affecting Toyota, Japan’s top automaker, but also companies in the services sector, including department stores.

Personnel departments are stressed out over the problem and they have their eyes set on the roughly 10,000 people who may be looking for new jobs after the expo ends.

Maruei, a major department store in Nagoya, had trouble finding 70 part-time workers for the midyear gift-giving season. The store ran a classified ad in a job-placement magazine but received little response.

Toyota, on course to become the world’s top carmaker in terms of sales, is also facing a serious labor shortage.

Last year it went into full gear shoring up its plants outside its home base in Aichi. The company found it relatively easy to recruit workers in Hokkaido, Kyushu and the Tohoku region.

The labor shortage is nearing the range it did during the bubble economy era, according to economic analysts.

The ratio of job offers to seekers in Aichi in June was 1.70, which was 0.74 percentage points higher than the national average, and kept the prefecture on the top of the list nationwide for 17 consecutive months.

The Nagoya Branch of Japan Finance Corporation for Small Business said a growing number of small and midsize firms have are finding it difficult to recruit new employees. Aichi labor authorities said the manpower shortage will continue.

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