The number of unemployed persons in January 2012 was 2.91 million, a decrease of 190 thousand or 6.1% from the previous year.
The number of employed persons in January 2012 was 62.11 million, a decrease of 480 thousand or 0.8% from the previous year.
The deterioration comes as more new jobseekers, especially women, entered the market and temporarily boosted the number of unemployed, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report.
Seeking higher salaries, many of those people have been quitting their former jobs voluntarily, rather than being dismissed by employers, the ministry said, adding this was a sign of turnaround in the economy and "not bad."
Job availability in the country improved in January for the eighth consecutive month, with the ratio of employment offers to seekers rising to 0.73 from December's 0.71, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. It means 73 positions were available for every 100 jobseekers.