• Kyodo

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Firms in Japan are likely to accelerate changes to their April recruitment schedules if the government decides to push the start of the academic year to September, following school closures due to the spread of COVID-19.

While most companies in the nation hire in line with graduations held in March, the government places restrictions on their schedules to prevent them from recruiting early in an attempt to monopolize the best students.

Companies can only hold information sessions from March of a student’s third year in university, interviews from June of their fourth year and then make offers from October that same year.

Should the start of the academic year be pushed back to September, company officials say they are prepared to take a more flexible approach, such as recruiting throughout the year.

Other firms, which say all graduates should be recruited at the same time to maintain balance in the age of their employees, consider the change to simply be a readjustment in schedule.

Many expect the move will also result in an increase in the recruitment of global talent.

While Japan’s academic year starts in April, a September start is common in many other parts of the world including Europe, the United States and China.

The matching schedules will likely entice more foreign students to study in Japan, while Japanese students studying abroad will also have an easier time with job hunting when they return.

“In some sense, we can’t move forward without a change to the environment,” Sojitz Corp. President and CEO Masayoshi Fujimoto said Thursday at a news conference on the trading company’s earnings results for the year through March. “I think this is something we should actively pursue.”

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura and many other prefectural governors, have expressed support for the September start.”Our education will follow international standards,” Koike said Thursday in an session streamed online, while Yoshimura, who appeared as a guest in the video, agreed, saying, “It’s important we make it easier for our youth to be active in the world.”

The fiscal year for many Japanese firms, which also currently ends in March, is likely to be indirectly affected by a change to the academic year.

Even though the fiscal year and the academic year’s September start are not directly connected, firms “may move to match their business years to world standards amid globalization,” an employee at a midsized securities company said.

According to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, while over 60 percent of listed companies still end their fiscal year in March, many have begun to shift to December, which is more prevalent internationally.

Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. moved the end of its fiscal year to December in 2018, while Inpex Corp. made the change last year. Kose Corp. also said Thursday it would have its fiscal year end in December in a bid to simplify operations with overseas subsidiaries.

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