Take our user survey and make your voice heard.

Two years on, ‘Premium Friday’ still a laughing stock

By Kelsey Lark

The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) announced Premium Friday’s second year anniversary on Twitter last Friday, and the internet responded with an overwhelming, “Oh, that thing’s still happening?”

What even is Premium Friday?

Premium Friday is a gem of an idea concealed in the coal of lukewarm execution. According to METI who spearheads the project, the goal is for employees to leave work early on the last Friday of the month to put money into the economy and promote better work-life balance.

In a country where a quarter of employees work 80 hours overtime a month and some are even overworked to the point of death, the motivation behind Premium Friday is invaluable. Yet it has no legal backing and its promotional messaging is wishy-washy and puzzling, as can be found on Premium Friday’s homepage.

What can you do on Premium Friday?

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to spend a half-day off work next Premium Friday, just take a look at their website for some fun and bizarre ideas!


Premium Friday is perfect for what the above example calls, “A leisurely and luxurious weekday of afternoon bra shopping,” because what else would women do in their spare time? No really, please tell us, we clearly have no idea.

OK, it’s not what we think it means. 「ブラ」is short for 「ブラブラ」which means leisurely, so they are actually suggesting a leisurely afternoon of shopping which makes a whole lot more sense.


Here’s another helpful suggestion — to spend Premium Friday “getting the gang together for some relaxed night drinking,” an interesting marketing choice considering the clear midday sunlight beating down on the models in the picture.


The next advert boasts, “Every last Friday of the month, our company lets everyone go home early.” Well, these jerks should stop rubbing it in everyone’s faces, because Premium Friday has had a pretty pathetic 11% success rate in getting employees home early, according to an article by NHK posted on Feb 22.

What do Japanese people think of Premium Friday?

According to most feedback online, even the reported 11% success rate seems way too high.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

The govt underestimated the greed, selfishness and inflexibility of Japanese employers. What's more, in Tokyo offices I've worked, Friday afternoons is the busiest time of the week.

Abolishing the national holiday system and replacing it with days based on individual choices is the way to go.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

IOW, Japanese people feel the same way about this absurd stunt as the foreign resident population.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Yet to meet 1 person in 2 years who has had one. A flurry urge from a fluffy PM backed by no laws or structure as usual.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

lol, my company did something better.. no longer business casual required on all fridays.. as long as you not barechested on in flipflops... ,creates a more easygoing athmo regarding half day off on fridays... never needed that.. my hours flex anyway and i use a bike for commute... maybe they should encourage that instead

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Every Friday should end early. It's Friday!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Premium Friday was destined to fail from the outset. The last Friday of the month is the busiest day for most companies with invoicing, stocktaking and deadlines. The whole culture of Japanese business would have to change if this was to have any effect.

Has as anybody else noticed that every work-related initiative envoked by the Abe government has failed miserably? Getting more women into the workforce. FAIL! Equality in the workplace. FAIL! Setting a monthly overtime limit if 100 hours. FAIL! Giving corporations tax cuts and ‘urging’ them to pass the cuts on as salary increases. FAIL! Asking companies to stagger start and finish times to avoid train congestion. FAIL! Increasing child and aged care to get more women back into the workforce. FAIL! The Abe government has failed on every initiative they have tried to implement, but people are too blind, naive and stupid to realize they got the third arrow right up the butt!

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Japan has such a great pm. he did only awesome things for this country.

Seriously when will we get rid of him!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan has such a great pm. he did only awesome things for this country.

Seriously when will we get rid of him!

When the LDP votes in the next leader. lol

5 ( +5 / -0 )

 The Abe government has failed on every initiative they have tried to implement, but people are too blind, naive and stupid to realize they got the third arrow right up the butt!

Cant really blame them. They don't live in a real democracy. Absolutely nothing ever changes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Do the hustle

Its true that Abe has pretty much failed at all work reform. The issue with the premium Friday is that it is not mandatory. Simply a recommendation.

As for the 100 hours per month/720 hours per year max over time hours, that doesn’t go into effect until April of this year. The issue with that law is that most overtime workers log an incredible amount of hours off the clock. An example would be at the university I work at. Japanese staff receive a circular every month telling them to input breaks and reduce their hours to what ever it should be if you simply worked 40 hours per week. Others also, clock out at a set time and still stay there working for hours afterwards.

As for Abe’s equal pay initiative for everyone, as the data has shown, the average pay has decreased over the past two years. This is most likely in response to that. Many companies probably view it as if we have to pay everyone the same, let’s simply pay everyone a reduced salary.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In conjunction with Keidanren (The Japanese Business Federation) and The Government; Suntory and Morinaga were some of the major manufacturers behind the Premium Friday scheme - Premium Malts anybody? Boost for flagging chocolate sales? But like many of the fabled arrows of Abe's governments, it has failed to reach the target.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I spoke to a bureaucrat at a Japanese government ministry who laughed when I asked him if his ministry has Premium Friday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Now is the time for every patriotic Japanese citizen to take Fridays off and strive to increase the population.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is just the government trying to dismiss people with genuine grievances via superficial PR-driven policies.

Overwork? Look, we've introduced Premium Friday. In five years' time, we hear that a study proved that it wasn't a success. They tried, and how could they ever have known that it wouldn't be a success.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Amazing - of the four people that we can see here, only one appears to be using a smartphone!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We tried to encourage it but people were just way too busy on the last Friday of the month. In the end I changed it and gave everyone the time back to take elsewhere in the month at a time that’s more convenient for them. Whether they want to come in later, leave early or take a long lunch, its entirely up to them. We rebranded it ‘me-time’.

Of course, in reality people are free to come in late or leave early whenever they want, but at least this gives people the ‘process’ in which they can ask for it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites