Photo/Illutration Companies seeking to hire people with disabilities set up booths at a job fair in Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in February 2019. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Employers in Japan, battered economically by the COVID-19 pandemic, are passing on the pain by terminating staff who have disabilities.

A total of 1,104 people with disabilities lost their jobs between February and June nationwide as employers reacted to deteriorating business conditions, an increase of 152, or 16 percent, from the same period in 2019, the labor ministry reported.

The figure is based on a ministry survey conducted on the impact of the pandemic on individuals with disabilities by interviewing officials at public job placement offices across Japan.

A total of 366 employees with disabilities were let go in March, the last month of fiscal 2019, the report stated, marking the largest dismissal during the five-month period. It was followed by 221 in May and 206 in June.

Job offers in May for people with disabilities fell by 36.1 percent from a year earlier. The number of individuals with disabilities seeking new jobs dropped 21.6 percent year on year in the same month.

If the trend of fewer job offers continues after the novel coronavirus is brought under control, Japan's workers with disabilities will face even bleaker job prospects.

The ministry is considering raising the statutory employment rate of people with disabilities to 2.3 percent for businesses from the current 2.2 percent.

It proposed on July 31 that the new rate should be introduced in January.

Businesses, however, have requested the introduction of the new rate be delayed, citing the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.