national

Gov't considers splitting school holidays to ease travel congestion

55 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
Login to comment

While I commend the gov't for trying to think outside the box, there is no way that companies are going to let parents take the time off. SO the kids will either sit at home, or cram schools will open special classes for the kids to take, so they aren't at home bored. Also, I can already hear teachers of graduating students complain that they are losing valuable test taking time to prepare their students.

I think Abe and his cabinet have to first address the problem with parents not being able to take holidays before they change the way students take them. It is putting the cart before the horse.

27 ( +27 / -0 )

Does this mean another public holiday? Sounds good to me.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

As an example, to ease pressure on transportation and vacation resorts and facilities, Germany schedules school holidays at different dates in different states .

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Instead of moving 5 days somewhere else, how about adding 5 days? It doesn't reduce overwork to just change the dates.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

As always in Japan, they attack the symptoms of the problem without ever actually dealing with the problem itself. Masterful...

14 ( +18 / -4 )

'Kids' week" very interesting, now look at the picture above..and count the number of kids vs adults !

It will be rational to produce kids first and then kids' holidays !

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What Geoff said. Kids here already have extremely short summer vacations compared to the rest of the world and loads of homework too. The problem isn't the timing or duration of summer breaks, the problem is that adults cannot take time off work. Set up mechanisms that target companies for failing to allow their workers to use their benefits when and how they choose.

Every regular employee in this country has at minimum two weeks paid leave. I bet only a small fraction of them use it all over the course of a year and an equally small number has the temerity to request an entire week off at a time.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Wait until we hear about what teachers think about this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree with the above posters that we first have to address the time off for the adults.

While I commend the gov't for trying to think outside the box, there is no way that companies are going to let parents take the time off.

There is a way.  Make a law that says that companies are allowed to make their workers not take the time off, IF the company BUYS the company employee's day(s) off. They should pay 100,000 yen per day to every employee they make work.  Make the companies BUY the employees' day off. Most companies will then FORCE their employees to take that time off as no one wants to fork out that kind of money.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I recently read a newspaper article based on this subject and it stated that in Japan, the standard is 8.8 days is taken off (out of 20 days). Apparently, They take 100% of their holidays in HK and 70% in Singapore (now whether that is true or not, I do not know).

Australia changed their holiday system way back in the late 60's as like Japan, most people took their holidays together (and also went on holidays together). Many country towns were like ghost towns as the residents moved to the coast. They changed it due to (like Japan) the congestion. People just got sick of overcrowding. Plus Many people only made money in the Holiday period so why not spread it throughout the year.

Japan should do this. Make it so that people can take holidays whenever they like.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The other problem is that it seems each locality has the authority to control their school holidays. In the city I live in, they decided that students need more days of study and unilaterally shortened the summer vacation. Whereas nearby cities have a longer summer break. If that is the case, then I think many districts will just ignore the idea claiming students have to study, to reach the goals Monkasho has set before them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The hotels and resorts would be happy about this. They can extend their super inflated peak season rates.

Companies don't give employees time off now, so why should this make any difference. I teach at a private high and have done for a few years. They are very adamant about boasting how many days vacation I get every year. However, if I was to take time off during the school year, I would not have a job to come back to.

My partner works for a large publishing company. She also gets 20 days a year annual leave, but she cannot even get an hour off Premium Friday, better less take a week or two off on annual leave. The company recently introduced a flexi-time system, but employees are not allowed to start or leave early. The flexi-time only refers to overtime. If you have 2-3 hours of overtime to do in the evening you can go home early and come back early in the morning to finish it. That's flexi-time Japan style.

The schools will not go for this either. Many schools already run different terms, two terms, three terms or even four terms. This means the school vacations are already staggered.

Its good to see them then attempting to address the holiday crowds, but their ideas are far from plausible.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This won't be changed until people have a better work / life balance here.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Nothing will change.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Seriously, Japan is the land of proposals and urging. Has any meaningful change happened here ever?

The Japanese mantra is "shikata ga nai". They have resigned themselves to their lot and have no desire to change things.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Many country towns where like ghost towns as the residents moved to the coast. They changed it due to (like Japan) the congestion. People just got sick of overcrowding. Plus Many people only made money in the Holiday period so why not spread it throughout the year.

Exactly.  The gov was talking about how to revitalize the countryside. This could be one measure to help save it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What about the teachers? You start moving school days around, and now the 2 week holiday period that teachers usually have to take their time off will virtually disappear.

I miss dearly the 10-12 weeks of summer break in the US where kids and teachers actually have the opportunity to have a break.

Meanwhile, Japanese schools use Golden Week, summer break, etc. to have all day club activities instead of just after school.

Education can happen outside school walls. Just saying.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is very nice in theory but does not consider deeply entrenched labour practices and the fact that such practices are often already illegal. It is pointless creating new initiatives when existing laws are not enforced.

However (!), if creating a "kids week" in September weakens the tiresome notion that summer is automatically over by September 1st, I am all for it! Average daily high on Sept. 1 in Tokyo is 29.9C. It's still 27C (just over 80F) by mid September.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How abut the government actually enforces labour laws and holiday rights and starts giving fines to companies where employees don't use all their holiday? The kids here have enough holidays as it is and the government should NOT be deciding who gets to take when off. Besides, universities don't care about national holidays and child care is already an issue. I can imagine the government insisting that kids be off school and companies will carry on as usual. Know who has to take that time off? Working mothers.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Yeah, and school club will of course be mandatory on said "vacations", since you can't get free babysitting elsewhere.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

No worries guys, not a thing wil change in the near future ,  here is the giveaway line -

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce in the near future the establishment of a task force to consider "holiday practices reform."

So at some unspecifies date in the "near future " ( most likely just in time for the next election - as LDP needs another fake " we care for the average Taro smokescreen" ) a bunch of oyajis will form a panel to start "considering"  these proposed changes - so as is the norm here it will take a couple of years of meetings for the dinosaurs to come up with some fuzzy conclusions and make some non binding recommendations for the companies "urging them " to consider giving their emplyees time off for this.  The recomendations will than  just get shelved -I mean taken for consideration by the J-inc bosses , who will just wait until Abe refocuses back to his priority tasks of wrecking the constitution and /or eventually steps down as a PM after the Olympics and the whole thing will anmount to nothing more than a bunch of "panel experts" being paid a fortune for a series of meetings....J- govt. business as usual.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

So they're gonna change summer vacation to October or another month? Summer vacation is most of the month of August and the Japanese's annual paid (or unpaid) leave is during that middle week of the same month. Wouldn't it be better to move that week where the entire nation goes on vacation somewhere else other than August?

The city where I work at has "Fall vacation". The city made it that the first 3 days of a week (Mon to Wed) in mid October are to be off from school. Combined with the Sat and Sun previous to that week gives them a five days vacation... Save the students and teachers still have to attend bukatsu. So yeah, fall vacation...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I agree with some of the comments made. Until the government strictly enforces labour law there is no point to premium this or premium that. Making holidays that can't be taken in reality is completely pointless. The company fiefdoms with the money to lobby government and bankroll political parties who in turn don't take steps to enforce laws which may jeopardise that support, while making seemingly positive changes to give Joe public more time off ( and make them think they care) which they know will have little effect on time off gained by employees. This is actually the fault of the Japanese people themselves. If they got up as a group (and I cannot think of a more cohesive nation) and worked together forcing the government to give them what they want, they would have a paradise. It's that very cohesion and sense of duty that the companies and government are currently abusing to get what they want. It really is time for people to wake up. It's like everything in life. If you don't get off your behind and do something nothing's going to happen. Waiting for people in power to do the right thing is like never teaching a child manners and then expecting them to have them...ain't gonna happen people!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As @MarkX says, test-based and test-focused school education is going to get in the way, given obsession whit prepearation, juku and so on.

As well, as @duncanpa says, they have been splitting holidays in Germany for decades. My first teaching was in the early 80s in Austria in the Alps spread over almost 3 months as different parents in different German and Austrian states and so on took holidays and sent their kids to camps to learn English from people like me. Usually 3-week stretches each camp.

Problem though in Japan is more pronounced seasons: rainy season extending to typhoons plus the hot hot humid hot season, not to mention all the deceased family members expecting the living ones to attend dutifully their graves for Obon - a bit awkward, nature and tradition.

In all, a reasonable initiative in principle but unlikely in practice as splitting up the national 'group' is another thing that goes against nature and tradition.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Man I love living back in the US. I avg about 42 or 43 hours a week, make just under $100k and get 30 days PTO with the option to buy an additional week.

My company also set up our PTO system where you don't need to ask your boss for the time off. There are available hours for each department and skill set and if the time is available you automatically get the time off even just one day before, plus there are about 6 preferred weeks (Christmas, Tgiving, July 4th, Labor/Memorial Day) and you are guaranteed to get one of them every year. This enables my wife and son to spend June and July in Tokyo and I can join them for 3 weeks in the middle.

I was very concerned about pulling my family out of Japan and risk losing the language and the culture, but now I work a third less hours than I did in Japan, make a little bit less, but have much better quality of life after trading my $2k/month rent in Tokyo for a $750/month mortgage in Tampa.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Most schools assign homework during vacation, so it doesn't matter when the holidays are. Parents need to know the schedule one year in advance of implementation. Parents use schools and cramming schools as "day care" including weekends, so their plans need to be considered and changed. All of this means the working parents will have holiday when the children are in school. Any conflict there?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe they could also sort out daylight saving. It is bright outside from 4:30 am at the moment, yet it starts getting dark around 6:30 pm. Why can't they put the clocks back 2 hours. This might give some parents a little bit of time to spend outside after work with their kids too?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When irrational rules, and rational is irrational The LDP rules.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I recently read a newspaper article based on this subject and it stated that in Japan, the standard is 8.8 days is taken off (out of 20 days).

20days would be nice! Most Japanese companies provide only the legal minimum of 10 when you join a company (even as mid-career) and even those are difficult to take due to 'the company being busy'.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't know about what happens in the city, but in inaka, clubs do not "babysit" kids. For starters, most clubs are from JHS upwards, so the kids aren't babies and can be left alone. Also, having kids in a club makes you far more busy with rotas and (in inaka) running your kids around all over the place, taikais that are two or three hours' drive away and involve 6am starts etc., so lazy parents don't let their kids do them. It's much easier and cheaper to just let your kids play video games, watch tv or read manga.

The idea that clubs do all the work in raising kids, leaving parents to do their own thing is false in inaka. The club gets first call on your kids' free time and yours too if they want you on duty or to be treasurer or chief or whatever. Fewer kids in inaka means fewer parents to do the same number of yakuin jobs. Some people can find themselves doing club things for their kids on every day off.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If a lot of people insisted on taking their holidays when it suited them, which they are legally entitled to do, knowing the union or labour standards office or whatever would back them up, none of this would be necessary.

I've been told by people on several occasions that they've had time off for whatever reason (usually because their company told them they had to) but they didn't do anything or go anywhere because their kid had baseball practice on a Tuesday or something like that.

It's going to take a lot more than:

encourage companies

the establishment of a task force

gain widespread understanding

to change anything.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If anyone thinks that the J-Gov are actually sincere about seeing their gain a better work/life balance, they are fools!

This is just the latest 'plan'/'consideration' where something good for the people is 'discussed'. If the Japanese were not so easily fooled and placated, and if this were a democracy, we might see some positive change. Until then, expect a lot more of nothing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

i agree with @iomae every time i tried to choose the time to take a break, it was either too busy, or somebody had taken that time off already.Also, when i did take time off, i still had to catch up on the work for that i normally had in time i was absent, in my own time. So holidays became troublesome, stressful and tiresome. I did find a remedy in the end...take my work with me and do it while on holiday!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

About time. Less densely populated countries have been doing that for decades, would make a lot of sense in an overcrowded country like Japan.

At the very least, split Tokyo metro and Kansai although ideally 3-4 geographical areas would be great. Start/end the school year at the same time but spread other school holidays.

To naysayers, 'splitting' doesn't mean 'extending' so stop bringing up annual leave and other irrelevant, albeit real, issues.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I would add that if Japanese unions weren't so pliant, workers might begin to take advantage of the legal rights they already possess. Nothing is going to change until employees come to terms with the obvious: corporate daimyo are not benevolent, their interests and your interests are not one and the same, and they will bleed you dry and discard you if you show the slightest backbone.

Their cozy chums in the government are likewise uninterested in your whining. They may pay lip service to the concerns of their "constituents" at election time, forming bold committees with the most innovative ideas. But we'll wind up with another batch of voluntary measures that, if ignored, will be addressed with the equivalent of a feather duster.

An collective, adversarial stance is required when you go against powerful institutions.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You can't solve the problem of travel congestion by assigning everyone's holiday to another time - that just moves the congestion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kohakuebisu, not sure where you live, but there is far more pressure on kids in local areas to join club activities than in the city. And yes, the clubs do act as babysitters, but not in the same way you mean. It is a place that you know your child is at, where they will be looked after and you don't have to worry about them getting into trouble. And yes, a lot of parents know this and count on this. When my kids were in JHS, and HS, it was so hard to find time to take a holiday. The clubs are just as bad as a company. If you are absent at all, kiss your chances of being a starting member or main player away!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MarkX

I agree with you, maybe except for the "easy way to keep your kids out of trouble", which I haven't experienced (yet).

My main point is that I do not think the overbearing take-over-your-kids-life aspect of clubs is parent-driven. I have absolutely no say in how many practices my kids' clubs have. That is decided by the coaches and the club's "traditions". I would be happier with less, not more. I'd also being happier if my kids could do different sports without having to show slavish devotion to a single one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about the government stop controlling everyone's holiday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would hardly call the current holiday 'long.' Kids spend half of the time attending school in the mornings for swimming and then have reams of homework to do, then perhaps a couple weeks with absolutely no school. However the reams of homework remains. That I think needs to change. There needs to me some rest from doing something school oriented. Looking back, I loved the truly long summer holiday I had growing up in America, but wow, what a nightmare that must be for parents these days. And no homework whatsoever. I was lucky to live in a safe neighborhood with good friends to have daily adventures.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They need to stop considering it and just DO IT.

The government was considering spitting up GW holidays by regional blocks and pffft....off the radar.

It'll happen again with this idea, too. Consider, make a working committee, make it on the talk shows, then pffftt....gone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every regular employee in this country has at minimum two weeks paid leave. I bet only a small fraction of them use it all over the course of a year and an equally small number has the temerity to request an entire week off at a time.

Is that all the paid holiday time they get? Does that include public holidays? Here in the UK I have 32 days paid annual leave per year, plus 8 public holidays. Two weeks is barely enough time to shake the dust off your feet and relax.

The Japanese seriously need more holiday time to chill, get away from work and live a less damaging (physically and mentally) life.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Looking back, I loved the truly long summer holiday I had growing up in America, but wow, what a nightmare that must be for parents these days. And no homework whatsoever. I was lucky to live in a safe neighborhood with good friends to have daily adventures.

Me too but I grew up in the 70s & 80s. Could go outside all day long, wandering in the woods with my friends, everyday for nearly 3 months. Of course, neither my mom nor my friends' moms worked. My sister, however, has my niece in camps or with a babysitter 40 hours/week. Even if she was home, all playdates would require supervision.

Is that all the paid holiday time they get? Does that include public holidays? Here in the UK I have 32 days paid annual leave per year, plus 8 public holidays. Two weeks is barely enough time to shake the dust off your feet and relax.

New hires usually get 10 days/year, which they can begin using after 6 months of employment. You earn more days as your seniority builds but as so many have said, it's not about how much you have but how you're allowed to use it. There are a load of national holidays, at least one per month except for June. NY's, Golden Week and Obon all result in 3-4 days off. But to take but one example--in the accounting department at my old company, the manager's policy was that his staff couldn't take an entire week off. Meaning that if Obon got you Mon-Wed off, no one was permitted to take personal leave Th-Fri to make it a full week. Of course, this is illegal but find a salaryman here who will challenge his mgr.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Britain, if you take your kids out of school for a vacation you'll end up getting a fine in the courts.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

New hires usually get 10 days/year, which they can begin using after 6 months of employment. You earn more days as your seniority builds but as so many have said, it's not about how much you have but how you're allowed to use it. There are a load of national holidays, at least one per month except for June. NY's, Golden Week and Obon all result in 3-4 days off. But to take but one example--in the accounting department at my old company, the manager's policy was that his staff couldn't take an entire week off. Meaning that if Obon got you Mon-Wed off, no one was permitted to take personal leave Th-Fri to make it a full week. Of course, this is illegal but find a salaryman here who will challenge his mgr.

Yeah, this is true and encourages people to remain in the same company because when you change job you go back to the 10 days, despite your wealth of experience elsewhere. I have the same in my company regarding unable to take 'long' vacations. 5 days off is considered long so most of our staff take only 3-4 days (including weekends).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They'll have to increase paid leave to 4 weeks first

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also force those 4 weeks to be taken every year

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It would be great if they did this for golden week too. Have different dates for east/west Japan, then the businesses can have 2 good steady weeks business instead of 1 busy one and it would ease travel congestion too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Splitting summer vacation is the worst decision ever for the kids, because they don't have enough time to rest, play with their friends outside and enjoy summer days. In my country we have 3 months of summer vacation at high school.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my country we get 9 weeks summer vacation between the end and start of a new school year(2 semesters).

Japanese summer school vacation is mid school year between 2 tri-mesters.

How does australia, etc in the southern hemisphere handle it as their summer is around X-Mas

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From what I hear from my wife, all the children of all her friends spend all their holidays at juku. Who are these children who aren't studying non-stop?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here in my country the kids are off for between 6 and 7 weeks for their summer holidays

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hokkaido already splts. As for the rest Of a nation of 120some millions, well Europe is calling.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Suga is stupid. I don't understand him. I have a much simpler and better solution. Add those five days to kids' summer vacation instead of subtracting them and let the parents take any five or more days off during their kids' summer vacation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

School districts can have different winter and spring breaks

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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