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The number of people employed in the hotel and restaurant sector in Japan plunged by 220,000 to 3.69 million in 2021 from the previous year, the lowest level since comparable data became available in 2002, the internal affairs ministry said Tuesday.

The sharp decline underscored how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the industry. The overall number of employed people in the country fell by 90,000 to 66.67 million.

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