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The number of people from the University of Tokyo who passed the fiscal 2020 career-track civil service examination has dropped to 249, the lowest since fiscal 1998, when the data first became available, the National Personnel Authority said Friday.

Although the prestigious national university had the largest number of successful applicants by school, the figure was down by 58 from the previous year.

The government agency said the record drop came as students opted to work for private-sector businesses, where hiring interest remains strong, rather than the government.

The announcement was made two months later than initially planned because the examination’s first-stage test was postponed by the coronavirus.

The number of applicants for the fiscal 2020 examination came to 16,730. The number who passed fell 81 from the previous year to 1,717, meaning one in every 9.7 applicants passed the exam.

Women accounted for 511, or 29.8 percent, of all who passed the exam, down by 1.7 points from fiscal 2019, when the ratio hit a record high.

Of the successful applicants, 131 were from Kyoto University, 90 from Waseda University and 69 from Hokkaido University. Over half of the passers were from national universities.

Although government ministries and agencies usually hold interviews with successful applicants, the interviews for this year’s employment process were held before the results were announced due to the test postponement.

The government bodies plan to pick out who to employ shortly.

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