Local bus operators in Okinawa Prefecture are facing a serious shortage of drivers, which is attributed to increased demand amid a tourism boom and the physically and emotionally taxing nature of the profession.

"Overtime hours have increased to compensate for the labor shortage, adding more tasks and raising the mental burden for each driver," said an official from a prefectural association of bus and railway operator labor unions. "Many drivers have quit their jobs. Local bus operators are pushed into a vicious cycle they cannot escape."

The active job openings-to-applicants ratio for bus drivers within the prefecture in fiscal 2018 was 2.61, well above the industry average of 1.18, according to the Okinawa Labor Bureau.