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Gov't stepping in to keep dates for hiring students in 2021 unchanged

Students listen to a presentation by a corporate recruitment official at a joint job placement seminar in Minato Ward in Nagoya, central Japan, on March 1, 2018. (Mainichi/Kenji Konoha)

TOKYO -- The government is preparing to ask businesses and colleges to maintain the current timetable for hiring students in 2021, people familiar with the situation said.

The government informally decided to make the request as universities and students have expressed concerns about a planned move by the powerful Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) to officially abolish guidelines for its members' hiring timetables.

The decision by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe means the government intends to take over the business lobby's role of determining such guidelines.

Under the current arrangement targeting college students, most Keidanren member companies begin recruitment seminars on March 1, job interviews on June 1 and informal communication of recruitment decisions on Oct. 1. In Japan, most companies hire fresh university graduates once every year, although there are exceptions.

The Keidanren plan to abolish this recruitment timetable in an Oct. 9 meeting of senior members came after its Chairman Hiroaki Nakanichi said on Sept. 3 that companies should be allowed to decide when to hire.

The government plans to set up a liaison council comprising major stakeholders and settle on retaining the current timetable at least for students entering companies in the spring of 2021. Participants will include officials from the Cabinet Secretariat as well as from the trade, labor and education ministries. Representatives from Keidanren and universities will also attend as observers.

The government intends to ask foreign companies, small- and medium-sized corporations and venture firms, which are now exempt from the guidelines applicable only to Keidanren members, to follow the framework.

The question of whether the recruitment guidelines will be maintained beyond 2021 will be addressed in future discussions. Setting guidelines is a traditional employment practice in Japan's labor market. Measures include the hiring en masse of new college graduates and lifetime employment. Finding middle ground on such issues is no easy task.

(Japanese original by Mikako Yokoyama, Business News Department)

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