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Over 100,000 people in Japan have been dismissed or seen their employment contracts terminated without renewal due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a labor ministry tally showed Thursday.

The cumulative total, including those currently expecting their employment to be terminated, stood at 100,425 as of Wednesday, after topping 50,000 in August last year.

Observers say employment insecurity is likely to remain high especially among workers in the manufacturing, retail and restaurant industries, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, as the country is about to be engulfed by a fourth wave of infections.

The number of dismissals and contract terminations rose sharply after the government declared its first state of emergency over the virus in spring last year, leading to the stagnation of economic activities.

After posting up to around 10,000 dismissals and terminations each month through August 2020, dismissals and contract terminations somewhat decreased to about 5,000 to 6,000 per month in autumn and later. But the figure rebounded above 9,000 in March this year, the final month of fiscal 2020.

By industry, the manufacturing sector had the largest cumulative number of dismissals and contract terminations, at over 20,000 as of Friday. Over 10,000 people have so far been made redundant or seen their employment contracts not renewed in each of the retail, restaurant and accommodation sectors.

By prefecture, Tokyo had the largest number of such dismissed employees, followed by Osaka and Aichi prefectures.

Nonregular workers account for half of those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

The government has used a special measure under its employment adjustment subsidy program to provide financial aid to businesses maintaining employment.

Under the measure, the government covers the full amount of leave allowances paid by small or midsize companies, with an upper limit set at ¥15,000 per day per employee.

However, the measure is set to expire at the end of this month.

After the expiration, the government will lower the state-covered proportion to 90% of the full amount, or ¥13,500 per day, for companies other than restaurant operators in regions in a COVID-19 pre-emergency status and businesses that saw their earnings drop by over 30% from pre-pandemic levels.

The proportion will be reduced further in July or later. It's feared the reductions may discourage some companies from maintaining employment.

In February last year, the government started keeping the tally of dismissals and contract termination amid the pandemic through regional labor bureaus and HelloWork public job placement offices across the nation. The tally includes those who were reemployed after being dismissed.

The actual employment situation is believed to be worse than the tally suggests as the information acquired by the ministry covers only part of the labor market.

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