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Working style reform has become an urgent challenge for the Japanese government, with fewer young people wishing to become fast-track career bureaucrats.

The number of applicants for national civil service examinations held in spring and autumn, which offer a route to so-called elite jobs, totaled 17,411 in fiscal 2021 — the lowest figure since fiscal 2012, when the current recruitment format began. The figure represents a plunge of about 60% from the peak level seen in fiscal 1996.

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