Government employees will start work early and finish early in July and August again this year under an initiative announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last summer to promote work flexibility.
The government introduced the initiative, known as "yukatsu," in July 2015 to implement a better balance between work and play for Japan's harried employees and to encourage them to spend time and money on private life and leisure.
Once again this year, central government officials will promote early starts and flexible finishes. Employees will be encouraged to start work between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., and finish work at around 5 p.m.
To encourage "yukatsu" even more, government offices in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district will switch their lights off by 8 p.m.
According to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Japanese put in 1,735 hours' work in 2013, far more than the 1,489 of France and Germany's tally of 1,388, but fewer than the 1,788 of the United States.
However, labor experts suspect Japan's true number is higher, with employees under-reporting overtime in a culture where presenteeism prevails.
Employees are sometimes expected to spend time with their colleagues in the evening, with often-alcohol fueled bonding sessions practically compulsory.
However, government officials say the introduction of daylight saving is not currently on the table for discussion. Opponents cite reasons ranging from the simple nuisance of changing time and the risk of inviting even longer work hours to the possibility of increasing home air-conditioning demand in the evening.
In summer months, the sun rises in Tokyo at around 4:30 a.m. and sets by 7 p.m.© Japan Today