The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Japan fell to 3.8 percent from 4 percent, compared to the previous month, the government said Tuesday.

Overall, the total unemployed dropped 160,000 to 2.68 million, marking the 17th straight month of decline, according to figures from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

It is the first time the unemployment rate has been below 4 percent in more than nine years.

Reduced unemployment among young people and less job losses due to improved business conditions are believed to be the main reasons for the fall.

By gender, the unemployment rate for men fell 0.1 points to 4 percent and for women, it fell 0.3 points to 3.6 percent. The rate fell almost across all ages, but those between 35 and 44 saw an increase.

Better employment for college graduates helped the improve the result. For youths between 15 and 24, the unemployment rate fell 1.5 points to 7.5 percent, compared with the period a year ago.

More job offers are now available to job seekers as well according to a separate report. The ratio of job offers to job seekers in April was up 0.02 points to 1.05:1 compared to the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Health Labor and Welfare Ministry. For regular employees, however, the ratio of job offers remained the same at 0.58:1.

Seen regionally, job offers in some areas of Japan did not improve, with Hokkaido and Okinawa remaining at 0.50:1 and 0.43:1 respectively.

The number of regular employees during the January-March 2007 period was 33.93 million, an increase of 530,000 compared with the same period last year.

Non-regular employees, including part-timers, increased by 630,000 to 17.26 million, the highest number recorded since 2002, when the ministry began recording this figure.