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The number of new graduate’s job offers that have been canceled has topped 200 for the first time in nine years, the labor ministry said Tuesday, as the nation’s economy continues to be battered by the COVID-19 virus.

Of those who graduated mostly from universities this spring, 201 had seen job offers pulled as of the end of September. A year earlier, only 35 new graduates faced job offer cancellations.

The number of job offers rescinded as of Sept. 30 surpassed the 200-threshold, last exceeded in 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March of that year. That year, employment offers for 598 new graduates were canceled.

Regarding the employment situation this year for spring graduates, the ministry said job offer cancellations had exceeded the threshold within a month of totaling 174 on Aug. 31. One Tokyo apparel firm pulled 25 offers. The wholesale and retail sector retracted more offers than any other.

Among the graduates affected, 102 have found other jobs, the ministry noted.

To support new graduates struggling to secure jobs amid the pandemic, the ministry is giving advice at 56 dedicated Hello Work job placement offices as well as at general Hello Work offices across the country.

Under the employment security law, the ministry makes public the names of companies that canceled 10 or more job offers on a fiscal year basis.

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