national

Koike tells Tokyo gov't employees to finish work by 8 p.m.

65 Comments

Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike announced on Wednesday a new plan to reduce overtime work, stating that Tokyo would be the frontier to enhanced working conditions.

Koike called for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government ("Tocho") staff to aim for zero overtime work, which she said was a long existing issue in Japanese society that leads to not only health problems but also decreased time for workers to to spend with their families, Fuji TV reported.

The governor plans to make 8 p.m. the latest anyone should be working, and in so doing, will be appointing a “Tocho Overtime Prevention Team” in each department and organizing “Overtime Reduction Marathons” where lights will be turned off in order to encourage staff to go home. She said strict monitoring will take place for staff who leave after 8 p.m.

Koike said she hopes the new policy will bring a change to the working conditions in companies in the private sector.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

65 Comments
Login to comment

It's about time!

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Nice move. Let's see if the old dogs are capable of learning new tricks.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

How can this be considered progress? Why is it necessary for anyone to work up to 12 hours a day, or 60 hours a week, w/o overtime? The labor standards law specifies a maximum of 40-44 hours work per week - how can the government ignore its own laws?

18 ( +22 / -4 )

Now, there are city offices down here that have rules like this in place already as many "citizens" have complained about the waste of taxpayers money...

BUT no one complains when school teachers work until all hours of the night, and they are paid locally too!

This is a decent start, BUT it needs to expand to the teachers and schools too.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Token gesture that will only go as far as To-cho and/or others that want to make token gestures. I'll bet that as opposed to facilitating this, staff will still be expected to have the multitude of the ridiculous, petty and meaningless tasks completed - only with less time. Common sense would dictate that many workplace practices in Japan could use some streamlining.

It's a positive step, but not enough. Why not simply enforce the existing labor laws? The sad truth is that the average Japanese mind is so subservient that they will always agree to do the bidding of their superiors, even if it is to the detriment of themselves and others who are dependent on them. In turn, they then do it to the next generation if they rise through the ranks.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

sounds like a revolution!

i leave my office 5:40 and guy next to me at 8:30. i have absolutely no idea what he does for the extra 3 hours...

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Hopefully it'll be by 5pm soon

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Curious to see if it works. The real problem is that many of the workers do not want to go home.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

i leave my office 5:40 and guy next to me at 8:30. i have absolutely no idea what he does for the extra 3 hours...

Getting 3 hours of overtime pay.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I hope the “Tocho Overtime Prevention Team” wil not be working overtime to prevent this ;)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Staying away from home for an extra three hours.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What time do they have to be in - 8am? 9am? This finish time is still too late.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

8 pm is still overtime, which is by law illegal. And I'm willing to bet it's just a "suggestion that companies can choose to follow", i.e.. Lip-service so she can say she "did" something.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

We are both managers and don't get overtime,,, I think he believes face time will save him,,,

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Cool. Good for the work /life balance as well as the taxpayer pocket. How many companies will choose to follow will be interesting to watch.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

8 pm is still overtime, which is by law illegal.

Please tell me what "law" there is that states overtime is illegal?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

8 pm is reasonable? what exactly does a government employee do for 12 hours a day? if the work is there hire more of them. Better than wasting taxpayers money on redundant infrastructure projects and the like.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Perhaps the next step would to encourage or force employees to actually take holidays, like a minimum of two weeks in one go. Golden week does not cut it.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

what exactly does a government employee do for 12 hours a day?

THAT is a question that millions of people have been asking for at least a generation!

14 ( +14 / -0 )

This is gonna be disastrous on the working population in Japan if it spreads too much. The defining quality of a salary-man is their work ethic and working till the last train is like a badge of honor they all wear. Now you want them to go home by 8pm or even on time? They will be committing suicide in droves from the shame of going home before their kids...

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This won't work, I've visited tier 1 Japanese companies that turn their lights off at 18:00, etc., until someone in the office turns them back on a few seconds later. Also, the older generation Japanese men will most definitely not want to have to go home to their wife and family at such an early hour!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

8 pm is still overtime, which is by law illegal.

You don't live in Tokyo nor know it's laws in the Metropolis , WE are dealing with it and have been for longer than the people on the outskirts of Osaka

0 ( +0 / -0 )

YubaruSEP. 15, 2016 - 02:19PM JST Getting 3 hours of overtime pay.

Who said they get overtime pay? Just you? If the employee is on a exempt position, it's not consider overtime.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A long way to go, but this is a start!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sadly I think one of the big underlying issues is that a lot of people don't actually want to go back home early.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

In related news, the “Tocho Overtime Prevention Team” held its preliminary meeting which ran overtime until the wee hours of the morning.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Your typical Japanese government office is heavily staffed with workers, at least twice as many as you see at an American government office, and they still work until after 8? You will never find an American government worker in the office after 5pm.

I do like the fast service I get from government offices in Japan, more often than not there are more government employees in the office than there are citizens needing assistance. On the other hand, many of my visits to the city office are to take care of things like renewing hanko certificates, and submitting or picking up various forms, none of which would be necessary in other countries. If Japan abolished the use of seals (like every other developed country in the world), not to mention the other redundant red tape, a huge amount bureaucracy and it(s cost could be eliminated.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Your typical Japanese government office is heavily staffed with workers, at least twice as many as you see at an American government office, and they still work until after 8? You will never find an American government worker in the office after 5pm.

@sangetsu03: A bizarre claim, considering that public sector employment in Japan is 7.9% of the workforce, while in the US it is almost double that of Japan at a whopping 14.6%. Seeing as you claim Japan has double, you are basically 4x off. Or you got the 2 countries mixed up it seems. Or you just plain made it all up.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Who said they get overtime pay? Just you? If the employee is on a exempt position, it's not consider overtime.

Lost on this one sarcasm is....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Koike tells Tokyo gov't employees to finish work by 8 p.m.

Yuriko, you should make it 5 or 6pm. Also what about the companies that make their employees work 6 days a week? Please go after them too.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

i leave my office 5:40 and guy next to me at 8:30. i have absolutely no idea what he does for the extra 3 hours...

The rest of your job basically.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Lip service. As always, utter lack of responsibilty. One demands law implementation, and does not propose when it is so common-sense.

When working in Japan, indeed time was 90% of the value considered by my fellow colleagues. I did a lot of unpaid overtime to follow that stupid work pattern, but I was thankful I did not have to go back home to see family (was not living at same location) and could do internet to spend time. Having a expat contract for 3 years, I knew that it would stop afterwards so endure but still tried to explain to colleagues that going sooner home or having fu n elsewhere together would bring more overall efficiency as a team. No one except my French colleague understood that...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Pigumon "The rest of your job basically."

Thanks for the jab. Could be, however, we have different responsibilities and somehow I can finish mine at least 30% quicker than he can. Anyways, back to the punching bag for you I guess.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I do not see this as a great achievement. Working till 8pm? That is still a much longer time than people in other countries are willing to work for. There needs to be better rights for workers in Japan. Also, I wonder if Japanese people want to finish working at 8pm. Some of them might feel bad leaving early. It will take a while for things to change.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I do not see this as a great achievement. Working till 8pm?

See part of the problem for her is that these folks have to keep up appearances for the public too. The average Japanese salaryman in Tokyo works..coughing fit there...much later, and it would be wrong for civil servants, excuse me again, another coughing fit there, government employees on the public tab, "left" work too early.

The private sector already criticizes government employees for getting paid too much and not working enough, don't want to give them too much more ammunition.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Yubaru

Getting 3 hours of overtime pay.

M son does at least 4-5 hours "overtime" practically EVERY day... He has yet to receive any pay for it !

As for me, when I worked in a Japanese printing company, we had "flex time". I was always the first to arrive at around 8h00 - sometimes even before - because it was SO MUCH easier to work in an "empty" office than to have to hear all the chattering on the 'phones - or among colleagues ALL morning and most of the afternoon and when I went home around 17h30, they actually started working !

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Perhaps the key thing here is the government (national and local) should lead by example. I think you'll find that's how workers' conditions were improved in countries where they are better than Japan.

The public sector in particular should have women in senior positions, should not abuse part timers working full-time hours, should not pressure workers into overtime or not taking stipulated holiday, should not mess workers about with transfers between unrelated jobs, .... I think you'll find that local governments in Japan commit all those sins.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The national government set up a task force to reduce overtime many years ago. I'm trying to remember - I think it was about 20 years ago.

The task force was disbanded because, uh, the task force was working more overtime than the average Japanese worker.

You can't make that kind of irony up.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's going to be difficult working in the dark, but we'll do our best.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The public sector in particular should have women in senior positions

You really should clarify this better, like working mothers or something similar, just women in senior positions is not enough to stop the overtime, and I know from experience that when a woman gets to the position of power, she typically is also at the age that SHE doesnt want to go home either, and stays late.

M son does at least 4-5 hours "overtime" practically EVERY day... He has yet to receive any pay for it !

Stop reading the posts before you decided to reply? Follow down a bit more and you'll see what I am talking about.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And those who finish work at 8pm don't start work until noon, right?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah, it sounds fantastic, but she is approaching the wrong end of the problem. She should be encouraging the driftwood employees to get their fingers out of their bums and do their work quickly, so there is no need for overtime.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sometimes I love to work after 8pm

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

These workers are all on a salary and do not get paid for the overtime they put in. Instead they each have a "Time Balance Sheet" or "kimun-jikan no chosei" which records their overtime. A worker that builds up overtime can use that time to leave work early for personal reasons. Some dudes in my office probably have over 100 hours of overtime racked up. When they choose to use their overtime depends on getting permission. I have to agree with others and say many of them don't want to go home early.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sometimes I love to work after 8pm

Could you give a few more details there Kiyoshi? (e.g. Why??)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

At the end of the day, I only see two possibilities:

Either their overtime work isn't necessary, in which case they're consuming resources they don't need to (potential overtime pay, office electricity, space, emotional energy, etc) in order to waste time, or...

...their overtime work is necessary, in which case they are being allocated projects too big to be fulfilled by the team available with the training and equipment available, and management need to sort that out right away.

But either way it's a serious management issue. I'd even go so far as to say if your organization can't go longer than two months without a week of serious crunch time (and that's being generous, but also pretty much impossible in Japan), then you need a complete restructuring from top to bottom.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

good moves... Japanese people should spend lots of time for their families, hobby and need to relax..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Koike sounds she checked payroll data. She compromised to 8 pm. This is not private company. And some employees just add hours of him played in night play place. Don't compare with a private company. She is stopping custom of payroll cheating instead of firing cheaters. Too many cheaters in Tokkkkyo Gov't offices. Upper level officials get caught sometime. Visit Ryotei. When they are supposed to be working, they are fooling with young cute girls.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I wonder if the local watering holes will start to fill up (more so than usual) at 8pm.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@wonder:these officials who used falsified pay hours might stop to report phony pay hour report and become thrifty. Koike specified 8 pm as some jobs such as child fescue mission workers might need hours than office workers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These workers are all on a salary and do not get paid for the overtime they put in. Instead they each have a "Time Balance Sheet" or "kimun-jikan no chosei" A worker that builds up overtime can use that time to leave work early for personal reasons. Some dudes in my office probably have over 100 hours of overtime racked up.

Are you Japanese? If you are then I'll ask, do you work for Tokyo-to? Otherwise if you are not Japanese you won't be working for Tokyo-to as a fully hired employee, and also not all places have what you are talking about here. Some do some dont, and these folks are komuin, , they already have time they can use freely, it's called vacation or leave time. They dont need more comp time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

8pm, it's a start. How about 6pm next?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's a start. Now, how about all across all companies, schools, next?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Starting off quite well. Now, let's move that from 8 to 7 and then 6, and you know, you won't see any decline in services or new problems cropping up, but a bug savings in "overtime salaries" that won't have to be paid and in utilities bills.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seeing all this opinions I'm a bit shocked!

Now foreigners often talk how nothing is done in Japan. Even more - when we try to talk to Japanese they usually refuse to comprehend as they think it just puts pressure on them (things can't be changed, etc.)

Now we have high profile figure say it out load and actually truing to make a start and all this bashing?

Personally I don't think the described methods (to prevent overwork) would be very effective but at least give her a credit! It's a step in the right direction - hope such initiatives get spread around the country!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I very much hope this works. Yet, the old mindset is difficult to change.

Just last Wednesday I was talking with one of my superiors who came from a large well-established company three years ago. When I said that working hard during the day and leaving at 6:00 was my understanding of a well-spent day in the office, he told me that leaving at 6:00 was my right but there were still many reasons why most Japanese would not do so. The reasons he gave: 1. Those who leave the office as soon as the official working hours are seen as people who do not care for the company and do not do for it 2. For young people working overtime is a good way to leave good impression while supplementing their low salaries with the overtime payment. 3. It is considered rude to leave the office earlier than your boss. To my surprise, he then went on to say that most of the time it is indeed possible for him to complete the day’s tasks before 6:00 but then there would be no reason to remain in the office after the end of the official work hours. However, he prefers to do only 60-70% by the end of the day, stay late and leave the office somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00 pm. He also said how he worried about his son (who is a brand-new employee at another well-established J company) Guess what! The worry is that his son goes home around 6:30 and spends the evening as he pleases!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It may have to do more about over-time vs. actually work being performed. After work I sometimes stop at one of my favorite watering holes that is adjacent to a government office. I can see a couple of workers in the office window just staring at a computer monitor and getting up to stretch or tapping on their cell phones. I may be wrong, but when I'm at my computer and having to work past regular hours, I'm frantically typing away or moving the mouse at full rate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Government employees should stop working by 8 p.m. They will enjoy that. But, there are still going to be the after work meetings at the bar to attend where important relationships are formed and as I have personally been told by my Japanese husband, that if he does not attend, he will be out of the loop. My request for nightly dinners with the children were met with anger and I was told that I did not understand the need to communicate with coworkers and clients and that I was to blame for his not rising in the company. There are parties, weddings, funerals to attend to. Couples do not attend because the going price for a wedding is 30,000 yen or so per person. "Only one member of a family needs to attend." In the rural areas, there are festivals that take up weeks of time! And the men have to gather and drink to share their memories of being drunk the week before! Seriously! Children grew up without a father at home. We have a long commute so one could say that is to blame. When we lived closer to his company, he just stayed out longer because he could get the last train. If they do get off earlier, will there be more time for board games, video games, nightly bedtime stories to children and relaxing time with the husband and wife? Or will they be doing their own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, You Tube things with their groups? Social media is way more enjoyable for many than personal verbal and physical interaction with a spouse. Living in the same home and face timing on social media is not my idea of romance. So, well, good luck with getting people to stop working by 8p.m. Could happen! It is quite another thing to have them go home. Men do not want to go home here on the whole. What's more, women and children often do not want the men to be home at all. They are selfish and demanding. Get a group of women together here, and they mostly complain about their husbands. I just came back from Europe. Fascinating to seem men and women actually enjoying time together! I had all but forgotten that happens. Sorry, Governor Koike, it is not just about working too much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo could use employee checkin out system used in USA. The system was created by Japanese. Employees use their employee id card dlushing to id check sillier, whenever getting in or out. Accounting depth database fooiiillle is updated after each card activity. The system is implemented because Americans are not too good in math.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it's only possible to be productive up to 50 hours a week ... statistical fact ... Beyond that counterproductive errors increase

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My Japanese husband says this'll just lead to people working in the dark past 8pm, it won't change anything. Nice to see something happening even if it's just 'on paper'.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just lock the office doors at 6pm-it's that simple.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not all employees are salaried. There are cleaning crews. The building do not become dark. If you or your relative work for ToChou, write what they say,,,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You'll have to set up security teams to physically remove them out of the offices otherwise they'll just work in the dark, like others have alluded to here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Tokyo Government offices, officials have about one hour of lunch break. Suppose one started . to work 9 am, Koike gave enough time to slow pace workers to complete his of her works of a day Visit Tokyo Go t offices. some of them are struggling to use laptops.

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