Photo/IllutrationMobile phones displayed at a Softbank shop in Tokyo’s Ginza district (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Softbank Corp. plans to reshuffle more than half its workforce as the company’s focus shifts from its core domestic cell-phone services to new businesses such as ride and office sharing.

Japan’s No. 3 wireless carrier will transfer 9,000 employees over the next few years from domestic telecom units to help expand joint businesses that parent company Softbank Group Corp. recently launched with Yahoo Japan and other startups based in China and the United States.

The decision highlights some of the challenges that Japanese mobile companies are facing as the domestic market has become saturated and consumers demand cheaper carriers and plans.

Under the slogan “Half & Twice,” Softbank will effectively cut its workforce by half while encouraging employees to double the productivity of existing businesses.

The company has already relocated more than 500 personnel from engineering and sales departments and call centers to new business sections through its internal job posting system as of this month. An additional 200 employees are expected to be transferred as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Many of the transferred personnel will head to WeWork Japan, a company that Softbank group has established with U.S.-based co-working office space provider WeWork; PayPay, a mobile payment service Softbank launched with Yahoo Japan; and DiDi Mobility Japan, a joint ride-hailing business with China’s Uber, Didi Chuxing.

According to a senior Softbank executive, the company will continue reshuffling and relocating personnel not only to these newly launched joint businesses, but also to other startups and projects in the works that the Softbank conglomerate has spread out both in and outside of Japan.

As those who are willing to relocate tend to be younger, the company created a new department with a post exclusively for employees 50 years and older with a desire to return to their hometowns.

The Community Corporate Social Responsibility department has opened branches in Nagoya, Osaka and Sapporo, among others, and expects to take on about 100 transferred staff over the next three years.

Their task will focus on coordinating various services that Softbank Group offers to local municipal offices, including, but not limited to, disaster recovery assistance, use of the Pepper humanoid robot, and verification tests for an autonomous driving system in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp.