A record one-third of Japanese university students graduating this spring have not found jobs, underscoring dwindling career opportunities for young people even as companies post robust profits.
The latest numbers released by the government yesterday were so bad they prompted officials to couple the report with new measures to help jobseekers.
The reluctance of companies to hire is particularly worrisome for Japan’s graduates because a person’s first job out of college is a critical step that often determines a lifelong career with a single company. If you miss that step and get stuck in lower-paying part-time or contract work, full-time employment may never materialize, leading to lower wages and a lower standard of living.
The joint survey by the labor ministry and the education ministry showed that 68.8 percent of university students had secured employment as of Dec. 1 — the lowest level since 1996 when the government began collecting data and 4.9 percentage points worse than last year.
It’s even tougher for junior college students. Less than half of those graduating in March have jobs, the report said. Officials surveyed 6,250 students at 62 universities and 20 junior colleges across Japan.
The numbers are in bleak contrast to the solid recovery staged by corporate Japan over the past year. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the recession that followed forced many Japanese companies to aggressively restructure, including cutting jobs and scaling back new recruitment, but thanks to strong global demand, particularly from China, exporters like Sony Corp and Toshiba Corp are making money again.
This has not however, translated into a similar boom in hiring.
Toru Tohzaki, a 21-year-old student at Tokyo’s Teikyo University, does not graduate until next year, but he, like many other of his third-year peers, are consumed with the arduous and increasingly competitive job hunting process.
“I’m full of anxiety,” he said.
Tohzaki hopes for a job with a major electronics or construction company like Hitachi or Komatsu, but he knows he cannot be too picky.
“It’s a heavy burden,” he said. “I feel like my destiny for life is being decided.”
Japan’s unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent in November, high by the country’s historical standards.
A key central bank survey of business sentiment last month indicated that companies of all sizes believed they still had too many workers. Firms remain cautious about looming risks including a persistently high yen and uncertainty about the global economy.
“We recognize that this is a serious situation,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said of yesterday’s report.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said jobs and reviving growth are a priority for his administration. The Cabinet last month approved a record ￥92.4 trillion (US$1.11 trillion) draft budget, which followed a US$61 billion stimulus package late last year.
“The budget for the next fiscal year includes various employment measures, so they should be enacted and implemented as soon as possible,” Edano said. “I am confident that the employment situation can be improved.”
The labor ministry said it will redouble efforts to support jobless students in the months before the school year finishes in March.
In a temporary expansion of a subsidy program first introduced last year, the government will offer companies money to hire graduating students. Companies can receive ￥100,000 for up to three months for each new graduate employed under a fixed-term contract. If a worker is then promoted to full-time regular status, companies receive ￥500,000.
The ministry will also organize nationwide job fairs featuring small and medium-size companies that may have been overlooked by jobseekers because they do not have the same name recognition as a Sony or Toyota.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to