Japan has been unable to shift its economy into higher gear as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, a fact that has often overshadowed some of the country's chronic labor challenges, including worker shortages and job mismatches.

But those issues haven't gone anywhere, and it appears that the situation could even worsen once society returns to some semblance of normality as vaccinations help ease the pandemic's fallout.

In the wake of the first coronavirus state of emergency, in April last year, the labor market temporarily saw excess employment as a record 5.97 million workers were furloughed. But the latest government data shows that figure has decreased significantly — to 1.82 million in June.