Hit-hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the number of companies in Japan introducing early retirement plans has more than doubled this year. 

The rapid drop in demand is pressing executives to quickly cut costs by reducing personnel, Kyodo News reported citing a study by Tokyo Shoko Research.

The data showed that 72 listed companies offered early retirement to around 14,000 employees as of Oct. 29.

At least 12, or roughly 17% of the companies, were from the restaurant and textile sectors.

“Some companies lowered the eligible age to the 30s or even to the 20s [from the typical age of around 45 or older], as they urgently need to scale back their workforces in response to rapidly worsening earnings,” the research said.

The Japanese government infused cash in the market, extended monetary support to companies, and also offered subsidies to help firms pay leave allowances until the end of the year.

Japan’s economy shrank by over 28% amid the pandemic.

Hitachi Metals Ltd., a maker of auto, infrastructure and electronic parts, is mulling to cut 1,030 jobs, followed by rental apartment operator Leopalace21 Corp. at 1,000 and Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Holdings Inc. at 900.

Japan recorded more than 1,000 new infections in the past few days taking the national toll to 109,112.

Meanwhile, a group of 64 Vietnamese trainee nurses arrived in Japan on Monday after a delay of six months caused by travel restrictions which were enforced to the stem spread of the virus. Another 167 will arrive later this week.

Japan and Vietnam agreed to lift travel restrictions to boost bilateral exchanges.

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