(Bloomberg) -- A major Japanese trading company has relaxed its rules to allow employees to pursue side careers, such as being a YouTuber or an artist, aiming to retain workers who are demanding more flexible work rules.

Mitsui & Co. lifted its ban on side jobs and will now let employees earn money elsewhere, a spokesperson for Japan’s third-largest trading house told Bloomberg News.

The move reflects a drive among companies to adopt more flexible working conditions in order to woo younger workers amid a population decline, particularly since the pandemic. 

“After implementing policies on remote work and flexible work hours, we believed the time was right to do even more, so employees can pursue both career development and new working styles,” the company said in a statement. 

Side jobs could include coaching, working on a tech startup and becoming a YouTuber or an artist, Mitsui said. Any second job should add to the employee’s skills and experience rather than merely supplement income, and must be approved by management, it said.

Mitsui employees earn around 14.8 million yen ($114,000) a year on average, according to its most recent annual report.

Some Japanese firms like car-maker Nissan Motor Co. and airline ANA Holdings Inc. already allow side jobs. 

Trading houses, including conglomerates like Mitsubishi Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., hold an outsized influence in Japan due to their diversified business interests spanning multiple sectors like commodities and consumer products. They have also attracted foreign investors, with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owning a 6.6% stake in Mitsui. 

The companies are favorites among university graduates due to their high salaries and job security. They have also been launchpads for some successful businessmen including Takeshi Niinami, a former employee at Mitsubishi who is currently the president of alcohol giant Suntory Holdings Ltd. 

--With assistance from Lily Nonomiya.

(Updates first and fifth paragraph with details on new rules)

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