Over 1,000 workers may be axed in Japan amid virus spread

The number of workers in Japan who are expected to be fired or see their employment contracts not renewed due to the fallout from the outbreak of the new coronavirus is projected to total 1,021, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

The estimate is based on data reported by Monday to Hello Work public job placement offices across the country.

The ministry also said that as of Tuesday, 23 companies canceled their informal job offers granted to 58 students graduating this spring due to the coronavirus impact.

Of the 58 people, 16 are high school students and 42 are students at universities and other schools. Of them, 27 were to be hired by wholesalers or retailers and 13 by hotel or restaurant operators.

Many of the workers seen to be fired are in the tour bus or hotel industries. Since February, Hello Work offices have been seeing a surge in the number of job seekers in these sectors.

At a time when many tourism-related companies are moving to reduce their workforce in response to their rapidly faltering earnings that reflect a plunge in visitors from abroad, mainly China, an increasing number of people in the sector are apparently trying to find new jobs, analysts said.

Meanwhile, 3,825 businesses were by Monday considering utilizing an employment adjustment subsidy program, which is aimed at covering part of firms’ costs to pay leave allowances to employees who are asked to be absent from work, according to the ministry.

The ministry has been receiving a number of inquiries about the subsidy program from tourism companies, manufacturers and restaurant operators.

From April, the subsidies will cover 90 percent of leave allowances paid by small firms, up from the previous two-thirds, and three-fourths of the allowances by large companies, up from 50 percent, in order to prevent a rise in the number of people who lose their job.

“We want companies to actively use the subsidy program to maintain employment,” an official at the ministry’s Employment Policy Division said.

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