Forty-two percent of major Japanese firms are planning to increase hires of new graduates in fiscal 2023, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, reflecting more companies projecting a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The ratio of such optimistic firms jumped by 25 points from a survey held a year ago. It topped that of companies planning to curb new graduate hiring, 9 percent, for the first time in three years.

Of the 117 companies polled, 49 said they will hire more in the year starting next April compared with levels in the previous year. The survey also found that the fallout on their recruitment plan from the Russian war on Ukraine is seen as relatively limited.

Students graduating from university in 2022 head to a job fair at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on March 1, 2021. (Kyodo) 

Among other respondents, 30 percent said they will maintain the same levels as fiscal 2022 while 14 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted between mid-March and early April.

Businesses that had been hard hit by the pandemic, such as airlines and the tourism sector, stood out in their resolve to increase recruitment as they explore new ways for growth. ANA Holdings Inc. and Imperial Hotel Ltd. are among them.

In contrast, some companies in the finance and energy sectors said they will curb hires of new graduates. They instead plan to expand mid-career recruitment and improve business efficiency through digitization.

Most of Japanese companies recruit new graduates at the start of each fiscal year, beginning the hiring process roughly a year in advance.

In the survey, the most common reason given to raising recruitment was "expanding business" at 33 percent, followed by 18 percent noting the need to balance the age distribution of employees.

On Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 57 percent see its impact on their recruitment plan as "not significant."

While 1 percent said the war in Europe could lead to less recruitment, 33 percent said they cannot assess its impact now.

The Ukraine crisis has prompted a climb in commodity and crude oil prices, raising concerns that it may squeeze corporate earnings amid hesitancy to pass on additional costs to consumers.

As for recruiting amid the pandemic, 19 percent said they will carry out all the process online, up 3 points from the previous survey.