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Japan firms' online recruiting sessions amid virus fears causes job seeker confusion

Recruitment staff speak in front of a camera during a job seminar in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward on March 1, 2020. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

TOKYO -- As job seminars aimed at university students set to graduate in the spring of 2021 have been canceled one after another amid the spread of the coronavirus in Japan, recruitment staff were seen holding explanatory sessions online.

But because the students are denied the chance to actually get a feel of the companies' atmosphere, frustration and confusion have been spreading among job-seekers.

"We offer jobs in fields where not just students in humanities but also those in sciences can play an active role," a recruitment official with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. explained in front of a camera at a venue in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward on March 1.

At another company booth, Chiba-based sushi chain Choushimaru Co.'s President Mitsuru Ishida provided information including the firm's selection policy. He eventually waved his hand at a camera and said, "We look forward (to your application)."

Company booths are seen at a joint job seminar in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward on March 1, 2020. The venue was empty of students. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

A total of 256 companies took part in the March 1 job fair held in four venues across Japan, hosted by Tokyo-based Mynavi Corp. But crowds of students in the standard job-hunting "recruit suit" outfits were nowhere to be seen. Instead, they viewed the sessions on their computers or smartphones and asked questions through chat.

Since 2017, Mynavi has been livestreaming job seminars on March 1, the day major companies begin recruiting activities. Students must book information sessions they'd like to watch beforehand. This year, some 65,000 students signed up, 2.5 times more than the number of reservations made for the same event in 2019.

A third-year student at a national university made a reservation just before the livestreaming and watched seminars from her home in Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast. "I don't have to pay accommodation fees (to stay near the venue) and I can avoid the risk of becoming infected (with the new coronavirus). It's good in those respects," she explained.

Meanwhile, a third-year student at Nihon University College of Economics said in a perplexed tone, "A lot of questions are asked in the chat and unlike in a seminar where we can actually meet company officials, it's almost impossible for all students' questions to be answered."

A third-year student at a private university in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, watched over 10 companies livestream their seminars. "It's so hectic to compare companies online. It's impossible," he complained.

(Japanese original by Yuka Narita and Kenichi Mito, City News Department)

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