A Tokyo court upheld Monday the dismissal of a worker at the Japan unit of the operator of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who lost his job in a staff downsizing in the wake of a mass coronavirus outbreak aboard the vessel in 2020.

The Tokyo District Court rejected the claim by the former employee of Carnival Japan Inc. in his 30s that his dismissal was without reasonable cause and therefore invalid.

Presiding Judge Yukiko Ito said that the company's decision to "reduce its workforce was highly necessary and the company's response was deemed reasonable."

File photo shows the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at the port of Yokohama in March 2023. (Kyodo)

According to the ruling, Carnival Japan urged 24 of its 67 employees to retire in June 2020, months after the mass COVID outbreak onboard the cruise ship. Three people, including the plaintiff, did not comply with the call and were subsequently dismissed later that June.

The plaintiff claimed that the company had not made sufficient efforts to avoid the dismissal of workers, including through using the government's subsidy for maintaining employment at businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The dismissed three filed a lawsuit in August 2020, with two of them reaching a settlement with the company in December last year in which it expressed regret and agreed to convert the dismissals into voluntary retirements.

The remaining plaintiff, however, sought his reinstatement to the company and continued with the lawsuit.

In February 2020, the group infections on the Diamond Princess came under the international spotlight with thousands of passengers and crew being quarantined. Thirteen people died among the over 700 infected.

Japan stopped accepting foreign cruise ships the following month until this March.

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