Business

Japanese cities and prefectures hire workers left jobless in virus chaos

JIJI

Prefectural and municipal governments are moving to hire people who have lost their jobs in the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative, which is being applied to those who were fired or saw informal job offers get canceled, is performing a dual function: providing relief to the unemployed and securing much-needed manpower for the battle against the coronavirus.

The Kobe Municipal Government said in March it will employ 100 single parents who were forced to leave their jobs and 100 students who were set to graduate that month but saw informal job offers get canceled. As of last Wednesday, one person was working for the city under the program.

“As displaced workers may increase from now on, we will accept applications at any time,” said an official from Kobe’s personnel department.

Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui said the city plans to begin recruiting around 50 people for one-year terms as early as this month.

“We want to protect employment as well as boost the city office’s manpower,” Matsui said.

Osaka Prefecture is also expected to hire around 50 people.

Kanagawa Prefecture plans to hire “around 100 people for now,” according to Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa. These workers will be employed for one-year terms, extendable for up to three years.

“We want to make it possible to employ excelling workers as regular prefectural staff,” Kuroiwa added.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is doing the same, urging displaced workers to apply for its jobs by Friday, regardless of age and location.

The metro government plans to allocate these staffers to duties related to infectious disease management, including work at a COVID-19 hotline center set up after the central government’s state of emergency declaration.

“It is a relief measure as well, but mainly we need cooperation for our duties,” a City Hall representative said.

Similar initiatives are being adopted by smaller municipalities as well. The town of Sakai, Ibaraki Prefecture, plans to hire several people from May until the end of next March, and is accepting applicants until Thursday. Anyone with a high school degree and born in 1993 or later can apply, even if they aren’t residents of the town.

“We want to do what we can for people who are struggling,” a town representative said.

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