840,000 join workforce as hiring climbs


An estimated 840,000 new recruits nationwide began their first day of work Monday as fiscal 2013 began after a difficult job-hunting season hampered by the miserable economy.

As of Feb. 1, 81.7 percent of college students had found jobs before graduation, up for the second straight year, but the ratio was still lower than before the global financial crisis ushered in by Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008, the labor ministry said.

An estimated 77,000 college students had not found work as of Feb. 1 and many are believed to be jobless.

Among high school graduates in the three Tohoku prefectures hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters, 94.3 percent in Iwate and 92.3 percent each in Miyagi and Fukushima had received job offers before graduation as of the end of January.

The percentage of high school students who were offered jobs ahead of graduation rose from a year earlier in all three prefectures, as disaster-hit companies resumed recruitment to accelerate reconstruction.

At their induction ceremonies, corporate managers greeted the new recruits by urging them to do their best to ride out the tough economic times.

“We have to turn ourselves into a ‘normal company’ as soon as possible,” said Kazuhiro Tsuga, president of financially beleaguered Panasonic Corp. He called the new workers to turn the struggling electronics giant into “a wonderful place to be.”

Japan Airlines Co. hired new recruits for the first time since going bankrupt in January 2010. JAL and rival ANA Holdings Inc. inducted about 1,000 recruits each.

ANA, dealt a recent setback by the grounding of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, is facing growing competition from low-cost carriers.

Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. welcomed 170 freshmen, up from 98 last year, amid success with its online shopping business. Among them, 94 are women, reflecting efforts to woo more female consumers, and 50 are foreigners, including from China and Brazil. Lawson is in the process of expanding its overseas operations.

“It’s important that you stay receptive to diverse ideas,” President Takeshi Niinami told the new recruits.

Toyota Motor Corp. greeted 1,179 new workers, with President Akio Toyoda urging them to give Toyota “the strength seen in cherry blossoms that can persevere in a harsh winter.”

Haruhiko Kuroda, recently appointed governor of the Bank of Japan, greeted 105 new bankers.

“Both the United States and Europe are mired in prolonged economic slumps due to serious financial crises, but they have not seen prices decline as in Japan,” Kuroda said, stressing the need for price stability. “We have to carry out necessary policy steps with determined resolve.”

  • Nobue Tsuchiya

    Almost all high school graduates in disaster-hit areas have jumped into the society, not entering universities in order to accelerate reconstruction. It is quite deferential to do that. Neither they might be able to afford to enter universities nor there might be universities. However, they must have stronger will to revive the economy. It is the place to return, where it should be peaceful. They will surely make the best of a bad bargain, and make it come back or better someday.