• Kyodo

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In a move that shows how seriously Sony Corp. is taking efforts to rehabilitate its operations, the firm will solicit applicants for early retirement from its prized development sector starting next month as part of efforts to restructure and cut costs, company officials said Wednesday.

The move to seek early retirees from among employees involved in developing products, including digital cameras and audio equipment, comes after Sony solicited early retirement from its corporate planning, finance and other sections at its Tokyo headquarters in August.

The struggling electronics maker will accept applications between Feb. 2 and the end of March from employees at its Tokyo headquarters and a wholly owned unit into which Sony spun off its TV operation, the officials said.

The early retirement program is part of a corporate reform plan to slash 1,500 domestic jobs and 3,500 positions abroad.

Sony also plans to seek applications from its personnel, administration and accounting sections.

Those who have worked for at least 10 years and are aged 40 or older as well as those in management positions and at least 45 years old can apply for early retirement, according to the officials.

Sony intends to increase retirement payments based on length of service and positions held, and also help takers find new jobs, the officials said.

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