TOKYO: Prefectural and municipal governments around Japan are moving to employ people who lost their jobs amid the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
The initiative to hire as temporary employees people whose informal job offers from companies were canceled or those who were fired functions both as a relief measure for jobless people and as a step to secure much-needed manpower to handle coronavirus-related duties.
The city of Kobe in western Japan said in March it will employ 100 single parents who were forced to leave their jobs and 100 students who were set to graduate in the month but had their informal job offers canceled. As of last Wednesday, one person was working for the city under the program.
"As displaced workers may increase from now on, we will accept applications at any time," said an official of the city's personnel department.
Ichiro Matsui, mayor of the western city of Osaka, said the city plans to begin recruiting as early as this month around 50 workers for a one-year term.
"We want to protect employment as well as boost the city office's manpower," Matsui said.
Osaka Prefecture is also expected to hire around 50 people.
Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, plans to hire "around 100 people for now," according to Governor Yuji Kuroiwa. These workers will be employed for a one-year term, extendable for up to three years.
"We want to make it possible to employ excelling workers as regular prefectural staff," Kuroiwa added.
The Tokyo metropolitan government is calling on displaced workers and people whose informal job offers from companies were canceled to apply for its jobs by Friday, regardless of their age and where they live.
The metropolitan government plans to allocate these staff members to duties concerning infectious disease management, including work at a COVID-19 hotline center set up following Japan's state of emergency declaration.
"It is a relief measure as well, but mainly we need cooperation for our duties," a representative of the Tokyo government said.
Such an initiative is being adopted by smaller municipalities as well. The town of Sakai in Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan, plans to hire several people from May until the end of next March, and is accepting applicants until Thursday. Anyone with a high school degree and born in 1993 or later can apply for the jobs, even if they are not residents of the town.
"We want to do what we can for people who are struggling," a town representative said.