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‘Jobs for Life’ in South Korea and Japan to Cushion Virus Blow

Inside A Hyundai Motor Factory And Port Ahead Of Earnings Announcement
Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

A longtime thorn for businesses and productivity in Japan and South Korea is set to prove a bulwark for those economies as the coronavirus threatens millions of jobs around the world.

Mass layoffs are frowned upon and labor laws make it hard for employers to fire workers in the two North Asian nations, helping keep jobless rates low. In February -- even as virus cases spread -- South Korea’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.3% while Japan’s is set to hold at 2.4%, according to economists surveyed ahead of data due Tuesday.