The number of employees offered voluntary early retirement by listed companies in Japan has exceeded 10,000 so far this year, three months faster than in 2020, a private survey has shown.
Fifty companies have made such offers, and about 70% of them have reported net losses, according to Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd.
A growing number of companies are moving to trim their workforces as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The situation will get worse if the pandemic continues to strip businesses of their strength, even though consumption is likely to recover as the vaccination rollout progresses.
Of the 50 companies, eight were apparel and textile goods companies, the largest share by sector. Electronics makers came second at seven, as they shed production bases and consolidated operations.
Many other companies were tourism, transportation and restaurant companies, all hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, such as voluntary restraints on going out, shop closures and shorter operating hours.
According to Tokyo Shoko Research, there had been no voluntary early retirement offers in the tourism industry in the past 10 years, as the sector was booming with large numbers of visitors from abroad.
The transportation sector, including airlines and railway operators, has seen its first early voluntary retirement offers in eight years.
The apparel industry, whose market was shrinking even before the pandemic due to the low birthrate and aging population, has suffered an additional blow from temporary closures of department stores.
World Co. solicited applications for voluntary retirement in March after making a similar move only in September last year. Sanyo Shokai Ltd. also repeated retirement offers.
Sanyo Shokai President Shinji Oe said he did not expect the current state of emergency, the third of its kind in the country, would lead to department store closures.
KNT-CT Holdings Co., the operator of the Kinki Nippon Tourist travel agencies, saw 1,439 employees, or about 20% of the group’s workers, apply for voluntary early retirement.
The group is pinning its hopes on expected recovery in domestic travel demand following the progress in coronavirus vaccinations.
“We are committed to the survival of the company as a responsibility of those who remain,” KNT-CT CEO Akimasa Yoneda told a news conference last month.
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