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Japan's 10-day break to fete new emperor may breathe life into economy

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By Malcolm Foster

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Japan's 10-day break to fete new emperor may breathe life into economy

Read that title and thought: "Wishful thinking"

Japan's unprecedented 10-day holiday to celebrate Crown Prince Naruhito's enthronement is expected to give the sluggish economy at least a short-term boost.

Then reality sinks in! This is possible, yet I for one am getting tired of continually reading articles that talk about the "sluggish economy", It's not "sluggish", this economy is the reality!

Abe's free money policies have not worked, it's an old idea that has been proven, now twice here at least, will not support and grow the economy because the average people are not seeing any benefits to themselves, particularly when during the same time period taxes have increased, and income, real income, has been frozen for at least a decade!

There might be a bump in the service related industries, just like there will be a bump in durable goods as well, before the tax hike. The numbers will be blared out as signs of "recovery" and "growth" but soon after the economy will again sink further into the quagmire of debt!

18 ( +18 / -0 )

So basically 4/5 will not travel. This is mainly a government worker's vacation and is too expensive for the average worker to enjoy time to travel. Only those with wealth and special government benefits/access to travel deals will enjoy their 10 day forced vacation. I can't afford to close my company so my customers (who also can't afford to travel) and I will have lots of fun and I'll vacation at the end of May when places are cheaper and empty.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

This story makes it sound like the entire 10 days was meant to celebrate the abdication and coronation when in fact only 3 days of it or for those purposes

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Yes now we spend our hard earned money and then go back to work. Is this news?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If the economy is in such bad shape, why do we have a labour shortage? If we had exactly the same demographic conditions but a seriously depressed economy, there would not be a labour shortage. I am old enough (72) to have lived through several periods when the economic situation was seriously bad. The current situation in Japan may not be great, but it is actually rather good as numerous analysts in serious business publications have been saying.

Abe's economic policies certainly have not touched off a real depression. If the economy was really screwed, we wouldn't have foreign workers coming here as fake students just to work. I was in Britain when the economy seriously tanked. Bus stations (there is direct bus service from the London Victoria Bus Station to Warsaw and other eastern European destinations) were full of foreign workers bailing out. Just the opposite in Japan.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

That begs the question why Japanese can't take longer holidays on a regular basis, working hours are shortened so people can enjoy life and thus spur spending and boost the economy.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

If the economy is in such bad shape, why do we have a labour shortage?

The economy is pretty good. But workers are in bad shape. That's due to the recent shift toward shareholder capitalism, whereby employers are achieving their record-high earnings by suppressing wage rises and capital expenditure.

This is the corporate "reform" process that everyone (except me) was demanding. The problem is they didn't understand the consequences.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

I wanted to reserve a room for just one of those holidays and yet found it extremely difficult, even in one of obscure cities. Many people are definitely traveling.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If the economy is in such bad shape, why do we have a labour shortage? 

@ bull fighter - superbly argued. Its nice to hear a voice of reason for once among doom and gloom.

Things are ticking along well. Compare Japans unemployment rate compared to any nation. About 3 %. 1.6 jobs per graduate, which indicated business is really ticking along nicely. Olympics will boost this even more.

If the economy was really screwed, we wouldn't have foreign workers coming here as fake students just to work

Exactly. Foreign workers are lining up overseas for the lucky chance to get the 5 year Japan Visa. Much higher salary, excellent lifestyle, safety, delicious food, world-leading healthcare, and skills to take back to their nations. If the economy wasnt doing great, they would choose other rich nations NOT Japan.

The 10-day Golden Week will be a big boost for the economy, parties on every street!

-23 ( +1 / -24 )

I have to help clean out the irrigation channels in the local paddies on the second day. It's a neighbourhood duty. I don't think she's going to go, but my daughter has a club race slap bang in the middle. My son has one on the second last day, which I think he's going to go to, but is only a reserve and probably won't compete. That's just our experience, but I bet it is typical in the countryside for families with children. The only people with 10 days off are those with zero commitments.

Here's hoping there is some economic benefit though, and that the government sit up and take notice.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So why are the companies not paying an additional bonus for this rare 10 day break.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on a long trip, so we're disappointed

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to get two weeks off work? There’s something seriously wrong there.

The whole country will be traveling. It’s the best time to stay at home.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Yes, people spend more when on holiday. Ok, let's extend this thinking: give (require) workers to take full weeks off through out the year. Keep the "boost" going. Let's see, you'll need to build more hotels, theme parks, resorts, restaurants... gosh, sounds like a whole new industry.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I work in the Shinjuku/Ikebukuro/Ueno/Harajuku/Omotesando areas and if anything there are more and more consumers already “breathing life” into the economy. Stores and streets are jam packed with people and although a good many may be tourists from abroad, a lot of Japanese is spoken.

I will be traveling to Hokuriku for four of those ten days but could not get a single hotel in Kanazawa for even one night. Everything was sold out months in advance (unless I wish to front ¥50,000 for one night which I do not). I will be begging, borrowing or stealing a cardboard box in which to sleep. I imagine the heat generated by the multitude of tourists “not spending their money in a depressed economy” (hah!) will warm the surrounding air enough to keep me warm through the night.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Things are ticking along well. Compare Japans unemployment rate compared to any nation. About 3 %. 1.6 jobs per graduate, which indicated business is really ticking along nicely. Olympics will boost this even more.

Just because there are jobs, does not mean one will be "gainfully" employed! Also it does not mean full time employment either, nor a guarantee of getting a living wage!

Exactly. Foreign workers are lining up overseas for the lucky chance to get the 5 year Japan Visa.

Please show some facts to back up this fallacy?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan, instead of confronting against China and Korea, promote friendships with them, and enhance trade and exchange of people.  That will bring prosperity for each other. This is a new "Daitoa Kyoeiken"  (Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere). Depending too much on U.S. is dangerous. They have the world  currency U.S. Dollar and can manipulate the exchange rate in need. We need to have varieties of world currencies Dollar, Euro and Chinese Won to keep balance and  avoid world currency crisis. China is already beginning with some oil producing countries that get negative influences from dollar exchange rates.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yeah.... May's economic data will see a nice spike in consumer spending but June, will probably drop a bit YoY.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

give the sluggish economy at least a short-term boost.

Breweries, hotels, retailers, restaurants and train operators are all expected to benefit from the holiday, 

Yes, only them. What about us? The people?

Anyway enjoy your trip abroad or enjoy going somewhere with a car, I expect the holiday rush this year will be i-n-s-a-n-e.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It isn't 10 days for all.

I have a full day of university classes on Monday May 6, and...get this...afternoon only classes on Tuesday April 30!

There are also sports club events scheduled for May 3+4, so some teachers involved have to attend, and a skeleton staff is needed to open certain parts of the school.

It's insane.

Happy 'once in a lifetime holiday' to everyone unfortunately involved at this particular university.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ganbare Japan!Today 07:50 am JST

If the economy is in such bad shape, why do we have a labour shortage? 

@ bull fighter - superbly argued. Its nice to hear a voice of reason for once among doom and gloom.

Obviously the phenomenon of the world's fastest aging society was missed by you(and bulfighter...).

This together with an extremely low fertility rate to replenish the population - ie future workers - and a literally non-existent immmigration, plan there are jobs to be found in abundance. Oh yes I know they gov. have updated their shamble of an "international training plan", but bringing in only a few 100,000 workers temporarily is surely a stop-gap measure at the best.

Immediate future looks great for young people with many job choices, but if Japan Inc want's to continue to grow and prosper, then the current problematic situation will not supply the answer.

The future does look bleak unless there is a serious turnaround in some of these metrics.

These are all facts acknowledged by the relevant ministries - not subjective opinions.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I didn't want this holiday because I knew I'll just waste money.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

With mortgage, local tax, car tax x2, we don’t have much leftover. I get casual work by the hour, so that’s 10 days no pay. My partner has to work one day, right in the middle. Looked for a holiday months ago. Nothing was available under ¥50000 a night.

i live in the countryside. Nobody here has any spare money. Everybody will be busy with paddies and fields and will not have a Golden Week. Everybody I talk to hates golden week. It takes 3x the time to do work because all the cars. Car NAVIs send cars in both directions down our narrow lanes and city folk drive too fast and have no manners. Each year after golden week, we have to clean up loads of litter. City people come here because it is so beautiful and clean. After their BBQs, it is convenient for them as they don’t have to sort their rubbish, just dump it in the river or in some bush or rice paddy. Because of increasing poverty in Kansai, families take day trips or camp. Nobody seems to have money anymore. Only tourists will splash out in bars and restaurants. Most people will stay home, drinking cheap beer, sleeping and watching rerun after rerun of the imperial family. And sleep. And after GW, abe has a tax rise as a nice little present.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Make it permanent!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

browny1

Correct on  the employment situation!! I cant believe how many here on JT don't understand the problems of Japans age\population distribution, more than a few here don't seem to be able to understand what a population pyramid measures & for Japan what it means as the base quickly narrows while the top is getting super fat……..truly mind boggling

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Malcolm should know that most Japanese will stay home to save money in this moribund economy and anyone who drives in Japan in GW; well good luck doing that!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on a long trip, so we're disappointed," Nishikata said

Pretty sad reflection on J - salarymen pathetic work life balance if this is a once in a lifetime chance to have a 10 day holiday.

Things are ticking along well. Compare Japans unemployment rate compared to any nation. About 3 %. 1.6 jobs per graduate, which indicated business is really ticking along nicely.

Yeah..kinda tends to happen in countries with rapidly decreasing pool of young people and coversely ballooning ranks of retirees.

Foreign workers are lining up overseas for the lucky chance to get the 5 year Japan Visa. Much higher salary, excellent lifestyle, safety, delicious food, world-leading healthcare, and skills to take back to their nations. If the economy wasnt doing great, they would choose other rich nations NOT Japan.

They are choosing other countries first...but the ones who cant make it to places such as Australia , Canada, US that would pay them double what Japan does and give them a path to PR after few years etc will obviously still take Japan as second choice since the minimum wagw they get here is better than in Phills, Vietnam etc.... but I love your funny description of Japan as the temporary workers paradise , its just a bit puzzling why you dont move over here as well ? :)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Goodluckyou

golden opportunity to increase your wealth with a roadside stall selling fresh lemonade and home baked cookies.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

10 days holiday, is a problem? That's speeks volumes. Australia/ New Zealand 30 days are common, and if you work long enough exta days+ after 10 years long service paid leave for 6 months. Mental health days, sick leave. But it's Japan so suffering even being given a holiday is to be admired. It's funny/sad that people are so worried about getting a holiday while boasting that it's so great that people from 3rd world nations are lining up (not so much) to be exploited. Then get angry they don't appreciate being abused? Work is not so important it's what you do outside of work that counts. Or I could be wrong? At my funeral don't think any of my work people will attend. But my family will....just to make sure I'm actually dead.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

So 10 days of people not being in work and "producing" vs 10 days of people spending money?  I thought we weren't spending money due to low inflation.

These articles about the economy are ridiculous.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy the Moments of Opportunity.

People complain too much as in most comments above.

Let everyone have fun in their style. It's up to u whether u want to travel or stay at home. Nobody cares.

Just enjoy the holidays!.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

For many, they have no money to spend. All the part-time and contract workers won't earn anything for 10 days or more, even harder for those on the very common minimum wage. They'll be watching their Yen very closely. Lie on the tatami, watch TV, drink, sleep, maybe a walk in the local park. Nonbiri...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The way that Japan estimates its employment figures is skewed so that even a few hours work a week will show up as ‘employment’ while the actual wage won’t be enough to live on.

Golden Week will mean even less money for those people.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have to help clean out the irrigation channels in the local paddies on the second day. It's a neighbourhood duty.

just one of many jobs the local governments dump on the local population because they're too tight to spend money of staff to clean the streets, Japanese pay enought taxes as it is yet they cant even provide basic community services. I mean J governments cant even provide trash cans in parks your lumped with carry your own rubbish around all day until you get home

10 ( +11 / -1 )

People complain too much as in most comments above.

Let everyone have fun in their style. It's up to u whether u want to travel or stay at home. Nobody cares.

how about letting workers take their holidays when they want, most government workers already get this condition. Taking vacations during off peak seasons avoiding all the crowds is worth far more than many realise. You wonder why so many people want to get government jobs in Japan, great conditions good , working hrs, good salary and never worry about getting fired or layed off. If the J government mandated that private companies offer similar conditions many of Japans labour problems would be solved.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

"I have to help clean out the irrigation channels in the local paddies on the second day. It's a neighbourhood duty."

just one of many jobs the local governments dump on the local population because they're too tight to spend money of staff to clean the streets, Japanese pay enought taxes as it is yet they cant even provide basic community services.

The irrigation channels are on private property and not public drains. In the countryside town and villages these are normal activities including collecting rubbish and weed cuttings. Taxes are paid to the central government and to the local government but there isn't enough to cover everything. Previously in the spring with rice planting and again in the Autumn when the rice is cut there would be a week long school holiday so the kids could help out in the community.

I mean J governments cant even provide trash cans in parks your lumped with carry your own rubbish around all day until you get home

Everyone should take responsibility for their own garbage and take it home with you.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

. I mean J governments cant even provide trash cans in parks your lumped with carry your own rubbish around all day until you get home

They were removed in 1990s. After multiple terrorist attacks in Tokyo and Nagano. In public areas, parks, train stations etc. Japanese people are used to cleaning up and taking trash home. Small price to pay for keeping Japan safe.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Japan going down the drain one day at a time.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

What about the 40% of the workforce that labors part-time, who have little or no discretionary income, and who will not be earning any money during the holidays?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Zichi. I tried selling water to passing cars last Obon. It was 35 degrees and I gave up after 1.5hrs with no sales.

@marc. The unemployment figures are not true. They only count registered unemployed. Usually you can only register for 3 months. Also there are 3.5 hikinomori stay at home people. And an uncounted number of visa overstayers.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not planning going anywhere or spending any money - just to the garden centre to pick up some seedlings, then a summer-veggie planting-fest in the allotment. Looking forward to it.

Might have a potter around the local potteries, and take the dogs for some long walks through the fields, watching the rice being planted.

how about letting workers take their holidays when they want, most government workers already get this condition

The police don't. It's work as usual, with no time off - all those holiday crowds, extra traffic, etc., have to be policed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

how about letting workers take their holidays when they want

Agreed. Now there is a new law that every employee must use a whole 5 vacation days, and they don't even have to be consecutive (even half-days count towards it, I think). What a joke.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@ bull fighter - superbly argued. Its nice to hear a voice of reason for once among doom and gloom

What, superbly argued? If facts do not matter then yes. But they do to people who can see reality for what it is. Unemployment rates are low as every year 500.000 people leave the workforce. It is shrinking every year due to the demographics of Japan. And salaries, despite the labor shortage, are going down. Thanks to the policies of corporate Japan that sits on tons of cash but does nothing with those reserves, this has been going on for a long time now. Abe lets these companies underpay their employees and waste billions and billions of Yen that just sits doing nothing.

So the holiday is a nice short term feel good sugar high for some, not for most, but it will be forgotten by the end of May and the Japanese economy will continue to drift sideways or shrink as it has for nearly 30 years now. Japan is now number four in the world for GDP based on PPP. India is now higher than Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A lot of women I talk with are dreading having to have the whole family home for 10 days. It isn't really the children they are worried about but having to take care of their other child aka their husband.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I really don't think it's going to create much of a boost, if any, but I am sure it is going to cause a lot of confusion and chaos. Can you still do wire transfers, for example? If not, when I would normally be receiving pay at the end of the month I will now have to wait until the "next business day" when the bank's open, which is May 8th. A lot of people I know are parking and not moving because of jacked up ticket prices everywhere. I think you'll see people going out for dinner a bit more, maybe, but honestly, I think it's going to be tourists that once again provide the majority of economic spending, and that might even decrease with a lot being closed for extended periods of time. This week is going to be hell at banks and clinics, so if you haven't gone yet, go now.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on a long trip

Ha! Literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, said only Japanese workers.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Only in Japan is a holiday a cause for mental caniptions. Most people are relived. But they are not Japanese.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Have made my major purchases before next October. After that....nothing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wishful thinking by the government as if a 10 day holiday will make any lasting difference, if any. Ditto for the Olympics, rugby, Reiwa era goodies, etc. Tackle the real issues like living wage, aging population, declining birth rates, etc. and quit assuming that there are any silver bullets. I would seriously hope that the population isn’t that stupid to believe any of this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Depends - on Family - if you have kids preparing for entry to Junior High, then you wont be going anywhere, and if you have Kids already in Junior/High then they'll be busy. Plus its a x3 times more expensive to go anywhere unless to your inlaws. So I guess the only benefits will be to the local restaurant businesses, transportation sector (trains/buses/highways) and online Gaming/Streaming Services.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is an obvious lack of accomodations, so rooms get so expensive.

And is it 50 000 yen per head ?

If I pay 200 euros, I get luxurious space in a castle or something alike.

Japanese don't realize anyway the worthiness of their salary for those full time workers but no time holiday.

I am going to my inlaws in summer for 3 weeks (from France to Japan) and yet feel it could be longer. My kids and their mother will stay 6 weeks (poor kids lol).

Good luck with golden week.

Banzai !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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