• Kyodo

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The government, along with businesses, marked the first business day of fiscal 2018 on Monday, with the former pledging revival after being hit by scandals while some food and beverage producers hiked prices due to increasing personnel and raw material expenses.

The Finance Ministry held a ceremony for 34 new hires in the shadow of the scandal involving the falsification of public documents related to cronyism allegations involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife.

“We will carry out our job fairly and impartially,” said Akane Nakamura, 23, promising a departure from the scandal as she spoke on behalf of the newcomers.

The ministry admitted last month it had falsified its documents on the heavily discounted sale of government land to Moritomo Gakuen, a nationalistic school operator with ties to Abe’s wife, Akie, raising the question of whether Abe or his wife or other politicians played any role in the falsification.

Koji Yano, one of the ministry’s top officials, apologized to the new members for making them worried over the scandal.

Toshiba Corp. welcomed over 200 fresh recruits after not employing new graduates in the last fiscal year that ended March as it struggled to recover from a 2015 accounting scandal.

“A firm grows, particularly at difficult times,” said Toshiba Chief Executive Officer Nobuaki Kurumatani, a former deputy president of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., who assumed the company’s top position Sunday. “As a global firm, we will aim for a company that can contribute to the world.”

The town of Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, devastated by major earthquakes in April 2016, held a welcome ceremony for new staff in a temporary building.

Mashiki Mayor Hironori Nishimura told them reconstruction in the town is only “half-way” done and urged them to assist its residents in every way possible.

A total of 930,000 people are estimated to have joined workforces across Japan with the start of the new business year.

The new fiscal year also brought higher prices for drinks and foods.

Major bottlers Kirin Co., Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. raised prices of their beer for businesses, a move that could be reflected in higher beer prices at bars and restaurants.

Takano Foods Co., a major producer of nattō fermented soybeans, hiked the prices of its mainstay products for the first time in 27 years, while Japan Tobacco Inc. raised the prices of six cigarette brands.

Matsuya Foods Co., operator of the Matsuya restaurant chain serving rice bowls topped with broiled beef and onions, raised the price of its regular bowl from ¥290 to ¥320.

Nippon Life Insurance Co. lowered its life insurance premium as Japanese people continue to live longer lives, subsequently reducing its payouts.

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