Zoom Up / Companies get creative to fight labor shortages

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A delivery driver picks up parcels being transported on a bus from Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, in May in the village of Sagara, also in the prefecture. The driver previously made three round trips between Hitoyoshi and Itsuki, a village in the same prefecture, every day for deliveries, but the number of round trips has been reduced by one and the driver can now use the extra time for breaks or other purposes.

By Masaki Akizuki / Yomiuri Shimbun PhotographerA big box sat near the center of a bus used by shoppers and other people. A delivery person placed parcels in the box at a bus stop, after which the bus began moving again.

Tokyo-based Yamato Transport Co., and the Kumamoto-based company Sanko Bus began operating the “bus for the consolidated transportation of passengers and cargo” on a route that connects Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, and the village of Itsuki in the same prefecture in October 2016.

The medium-sized bus can carry cargo equivalent to about 30 to 40 10-kilogram boxes of mikan oranges, taking up the space of four passenger seats. The delivery company suffers from a labor shortage and is hoping to lighten the burden on its drivers, while the bus company hopes to increase revenue from the route, even if only slightly.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Veteran nurse Suzuko Takeshita, left, works with nurse Megumi Inayoshi, 45, in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture, in May. “I can count on Takeshita, as she has abundant experience and knowledge,” Inayoshi said.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Yoichi Eriguchi, 35, oversees the safety of pedestrians and other people in Jonan Ward, Fukuoka, in May. Even though he has intellectual disabilities, he has been praised as a role model for non-disabled employees because of his enthusiastic attitude toward work.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    A sign saying “We apologize for making you wait due to a severe shortage of workers” is seen at a restaurant in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, in May, where many customers line up during lunchtime.

The population continues to decline in areas along the bus’ route, and the average number of passengers per run is less than five. Transportation fees for cargo are used to maintain the route.

Attempts to resolve increasingly serious labor shortages are under way in various industries. Nursing care facility Sawayaka Kasugakan in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture, employs three nurses who retired from other hospitals.

Suzuko Takeshita, 75, has 53 years of experience as a nurse. She is a pillar of the workplace, as she performs jobs quickly and efficiently and gives advice to young colleagues.

“Nursing work is challenging but rewarding. I think many retired nurses still want to help other people,” Takeshita said.

Security company ATU Holdings in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, has been actively employing disabled people since 2014. Today, 16 of its 37 employees have disabilities.

Company President Ryutaro Iwasaki, 42, said: “They demonstrate higher abilities than non-disabled people if they’re appointed to sections that are suited to their respective conditions. Not only do they help resolve the labor shortage, they’re also reliable workers for my company.”Speech

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