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Summer bonus payments at firms with at least five employees plunged 9.7 percent from a year earlier to an average of ¥363,104, marking the biggest fall since officials began compiling comparable data in 1991 and the third straight yearly fall, the labor ministry said Monday.

“Deterioration in corporate earnings due to the Lehman shock led to a steep decline in bonuses,” a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official said, referring to the global financial crisis after the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008.

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