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Japanese gov't backs 4-day workweek, but experts split

54 Comments
By Keita Nakamura

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54 Comments
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Yep that’s going to happen! Sounds like a Premium Friday story, and that was a day a month off. Not a day or two a week. Without a soul grinding obsession with work ....what would people do? They are not mentally prepared for having a personal life.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Among major economies, Australian, Canadian, Italian and U.S. employees work longer hours than Japanese, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's survey. 

I'm sorry but I really dispute this part of the story. I've lived her too long to know that Japanese workers and companies do countless hours of "service zangyo*(overtime)" that people in these other countries never have to do. So stating that Japanese don't work as long as these people is flat out lying!

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Ha! I’ll believe that when I see it!

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Most Japanese companies don't even honor an 8-hour work day, how are they ever going to embrace a 4-day work week?

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Work life balance in Japan is insane. Workers are forced into extremely long unproductive hours and are equally forced into taking very little paid leave. A four day flexible work week with no overtime and trebling guaranteed leave time will boost worker wellbeing and productivity. Research has also found that workers in a much better work life balance situation get sick less often, are a great deal happier and lead more fulfilling lives. Anyone against this idea is no expert, just a slave to the existing unjust and insane system.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Work life balance in japanese companies?

Never happening.

A 4-day work week in Japan will not happen this century.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Oh, yes! Another great idea from the boffins! Just like Premium Friday! Bwahaha!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

, with labor and management both voicing concerns about possible unwanted outcomes.

err like people being, enjoying a happy life, didn’t see that coming definitely an unwanted outcome. And upto 40%-60% of workers are on contracts that don’t include paid holidays? You can’t even have a holiday outside of designated times.

Takuya Hoshino, an economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, says simply introducing a four-day workweek may not necessarily encourage employees to use their time off in a way that benefits their careers or contributes to the economy.

Takuya, your an idiot, life research institute are you kidding? Might want to rethink your research thing ?

Why? how? would someone use their time of to benefit their career,? It’s time off! That’s the point. Go on a trip spend money, spend time with the family wouldn’t that help the economy? What a doughnut. And this idiot gets paid for being an idiot. Unbelievable.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The root of the problem is the low productivity of Japanees workers, who have their workdays full of unnecessary meetings, training sessions, seminars and other time-wasting activities. A 4-day work week is great in theory, and if productivity remains unchanged it would mean a huge gain in per-hour terms. I somehow don't think Keidanren is going to be on board, and in amy event it will only benefit those with the most secure employment. Nobody in the service sector or working for hourly wages wull benefit - and it's those people who really need help.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Housewives will hate this. Does the government propose to build more pachinko parlours?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The Japanese workforce as is is inefficient, which leads to extra unnecessary “overtime”.

Before you think about 4-day work, change the work mindset and attitude first.

“Need more time off to acquire new skills” - what is the point? There are not many promotion opportunities. People are not promoted because of their ability but because of their tenure/age. Why bother? How many people do you see who are happy going to work every morning? If employees are already unhappy working, whether it is 3 days, 4 days or 5 days - they are just not happy. And I know, if there’s 4 days work, most will just spent the one day at home sleeping.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Buahahaha! That's impossible for Japan's karoshi working culture.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

For all people saying here, you can pretty much live your western life in Japan and unplug after 5pm, chill 2, 3 days a week while earning a decent salary. But from my experience in this place, this is bit difficult when you are the only foreigner in a japanese company. You will be crushed by the rules, customs and practices that are simply incompatible with the white man's lifestyle. You love your free time, your family. You're not an ant.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

My understanding of the 4-day work week is that you work 10 hours a day for 4 days (as opposed to 8 hours a day for 5 days) so they have no reason to cut your pay. Is that not the concept they’re thinking of here?

I was confused by all the people on the Japanese news who talked about salaries being cut with a 4-day work week. That would defeat the whole point of it! Many people would likely have to find a second job if their income were cut by 20%.

I know it’s already quite common to do “service overtime” and work 10+ hours a day here, but still… How are they missing such a basic point?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"Can anyone British lauding this and berating Japan remind me how long is the working week in the UK?"

I'm not sure of your point? As someone British that worked in Japan, the difference isn't in the written contract, but how many hours you're doing in reality. In the UK, I always leave on time and I'm forced to enjoy my 28 days off a year.

Every job I ever worked in Japan, I magically had 10 hours added to my workweek by the very first month of employment. Not to mention 10 days off a year that they're guilty out of taking. What Japan says it does and what they actually do is wildly different.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hahaha! Rrrriiiiiggghhht. They may back it on paper, and may only want to pay staff for four days of work, but the “100 hours of overtime” cap would instantly double.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

They would do well to enforce current laws considering all the unpaid overtime here.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

For employers, while people working four days a week may become more motivated, this may not improve their productivity enough to compensate for the lost workday. Employees, meanwhile, fear pay cuts.

Multiple studies over the last 40 years have shown sharply rising productivity gains from workers combined with stagnant wages, with the vast majority of gains going to capital stakeholders.

First world nations have long had the capacity to move to post-scarcity economies with shorter working hours and more benefits for employees.

That is if the greed of bloated executive salaries and capital gains are removed from the equation, or their prioritization lessened.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

When they changed from a 6-day week to a 5-day week, government offices and banks closed on Saturdays and before you knew it, the rest of the country had followed suit. I see no reason why the same method should not work again.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

UK factory workers 40 hours/week. Office workers 35 hours/week.

Most Japanese I know work at least 50 hours/week. Less actual vacation time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Welcome this decision,

But, as per my experience this is not realistic in Japan.

Japan better to resolve first overtime working and suicide problems.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I work Mond-Frid, religiously, on occasions have to do weekends too.

Weekends? If you had better skills to sell, you’d quit this job and find a decent place to work. Sounds like a crappy company. Stop whining as usual and do something about it.

How about we have less centralization of such powers in government - decentralize power and let free individuals make their own decisions?

I don’t think this would fly in Japan given the attitudes to work and the ethos of more traditional Japanese companies. This is one area where government intervention is probably desirable. My experience working here tells me that workers and companies generally need to be pushed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's a good move, but I still know plenty of people telling me that they can't take a day off during weekdays lol...crystal clear on how fast prospects will move.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Confusion rains and some people get wet, it’s probably lost in translation but get your work done on 40hrs go home have a rest. There is absolutely no need for a 20% pay cut because you have done the work. For the gods sake why? Why? Would you be arguing about not having time off. Is home so miserable.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If Japan were to introduce a 4-day week it would be 4 X 16 hour days. So pretty much like it is now, except one extra day free.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

From the article:

Among major economies, Australian, Canadian, Italian and U.S. employees work longer hours than Japanese, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's survey.

No they don't. Stopped reading this drivel after this point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese companies can't even adhere to a 9 to 5 workday; in what universe are they going to adopt a 4-day work week?!?!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This could be a revolutionary change for the Japanese work/life balance.

Imagine a Japan where Dad's see their kids often, families go out together to play and eat, and companies thrive with the growth in business (e.g. restaurants, hotels etc.),

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My understanding is that the current proposal would cut pay 20% but allow you to revert back. It may be appealing to those with small children or elderly parents or those who devote a lot of time to sports or hobbies.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm sorry but I really dispute this part of the story. I've lived her too long to know that Japanese workers and companies do countless hours of "service zangyo*(overtime)" that people in these other countries never have to do. So stating that Japanese don't work as long as these people is flat out lying!

Exactly this!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why? how? would someone use their time of to benefit their career,?

To escape their current job? To gain skills to help them get a promotion? To start their own business? Time to improve yourself is increasingly important as jobs become less secure.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Funny thing is that at my current job in Japan, unlike other countries where I worked before, I can’t easily go to the office on weekends. If I do that too many times they will force me to do some extra medical checks and possibly even reduce my pay rate.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In UK, average man earns 22,000 yen in 8 hours a day. Does it happen in Japan?

But in majority, Japanese themselves want to work hard all their life, it's Japanese pure blood.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For employers, while people working four days a week may become more motivated, this may not improve their productivity enough to compensate for the lost workday. Employees, meanwhile, fear pay cuts.

The poorly trained workers and management don't know how to improve productivity and think working hard equals working long. Japan wants to continue the image of the poor "hard-working" Japanese to the rest of the world so a four day work week will never be allowed to happen as employers here don't give a damn about work/life balance. Most of them probably have never heard of that term.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

4 day work week in Japan...yeah, when pigs fly outside the window..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was confused by all the people on the Japanese news who talked about salaries being cut with a 4-day work week. That would defeat the whole point of it! Many people would likely have to find a second job if their income were cut by 20%.

Agreed...all the friends who work 4 day weeks or work flexible from home ( mainly in IT ) are on full salary...cutting wages would defeat the purpose , definitely...but TIJ so we can't expect " developed world" balanced thinking here

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can quite easily make Japanese companies more streamlined and more efficient, get rid of "Hanko" stamps, there must be a whole team of office workers walking backwards and forwards with piles of paper waiting to get stamped, then the paper gets moved to another dept and repeat, just why? in the 21 C we should be reducing the paper consumption, its not good for the environment and its costly. has any one undertaken a study on how much time is wasted, and how much it costs just to have a hanko stamp seal of approval. IF it was removed just imagain how much more efficient companies would be.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is one of the reasons why there’s so many angry / unhappy people out there. This “work work work” mentality was never healthy. If we can have more people in a better mood, the world is going to be a better place.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some of us are already on 4-day workweek because of COVID-19.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Part one agreed, 4 days a week working. If you, then as part two, still add payments for seven days per week, then the concept will even start to work and brings Japan fast and globally back on top, for quite a bunch of reasons. I really doubt of course, that there’s enough courage and it will be ever done, but I would of course recommend it. I see many and balanced advantages for many parts of society and economic branches in this concept. Only part one, that’s of course not working, a full disaster.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

> MarkXToday  08:08 am JST

Among major economies, Australian, Canadian, Italian and U.S. employees work longer hours than Japanese, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's survey. 

I'm sorry but I really dispute this part of the story. I've lived her too long to know that Japanese workers and companies do countless hours of "service zangyo*(overtime)" that people in these other countries never have to do. So stating that Japanese don't work as long as these people is flat out lying!

Come on, I think I'd rather believe statistics compiled by experts in the field that a single persons experience.

Yeah sure, YOU have worked more hours in Japanese companies than you did in other countries, but you can't speak for all the millions of workers around the world.

Besides, Japanese workers have among the lowest productivity levels in the developed world, so they may be at work for a long time but not getting a whole lot done.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If the productivity is as low as human can achieve why work 4-5 days a week anyway ?

Unfortunately this is created to cut the wages, not allow more work life balance for free.

with productivity showing limited improvement as people take fewer holidays compared to other developed countries and labor mobility stays low.

This is as usual a convinient half truth, the reality is that:

there is mostly no capability to manage, understand, organize work in JP companies

there is no capability to communicate on what's wrong and improve it

people can't get fired and promotion are time based : employees do not need to focus on their work, just attend
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Worked seven days a week to put my kids through college; now down to four. Physically and mentally, it's a blessing - and the quality of my work has increased.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I’m sure the government will support the 4-day work week as long as people will use the other one or two days to work from home, thus, justifying the short work week.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When would this idea trickle down the ranks?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ridiculous! Just make sure everyone gets a block 3-week paid vacation and enforce it with very stiff penalties.

My son just got his masters, has a job outside Japan and will never work in Japan, he wants a 3 week summer vacation to do some travelling not more 3-day weekends.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"It will be important for the government to draw up a framework guaranteeing a worker's right to choose whether to take three days off a week," he said.

How about we have less centralization of such powers in government - decentralize power and let free individuals make their own decisions?

Japan’s employment system is already blighted by bad rules made by government; having government make even more rules is quite likely to make things worse not better.

We need power decentralized.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Average workweek by country.

Japan average 32.1 hrs.

USA average 34.35 hrs.

UK average 29.58 hrs.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/average-work-week-by-country

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not a very practical or desirable (for me) idea. What's the point if you work four days a week and have to take a pay cut? You will probably have to look for a side job on the fifth day to make up the difference. Or instead of working 8 hours a day for five days at your regular job, you end up working 10 hours a day for four days.

I love my job and sometimes work six days a week and still have/had (pre-pandemic) to meet friends, play sports and do my hobbies. As my dad used to say, if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

So NOW, it is ‘the experts’ that are confused?!? How about the more important critical issues within the surrounding 18 months? Most often, “experts” were ignored or deliberations used as a stalling tactic.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Sounds good, also I hope those who like their job will be able to work at least 5 days a week.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

If you earn enough, and you are productive enough, then I dont see any issue. It feels like the people who would benefit most are those with less secure jobs though.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Can anyone British lauding this and berating Japan remind me how long is the working week in the UK?

The US of A will do too.

Germany?

I work Mond-Frid, religiously, on occasions have to do weekends too.

My maths are lacking, yet I guess we are doing exactly as this proposals.

Please help!

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

When I came to Japan people worked a 6-day week and foreigners didn’t believe a 5-day week would ever become the norm. Well, they were wrong then and will probably be proved wrong again.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

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