Japan – Government mulls four-day working week amid pandemic (Deutsche Welle)
Members of the Japanese parliament last week opened discussions on a proposal put forward by Kuniko Inoguchi, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to permit workers to opt for a four-day working week instead of the traditional five-day, Monday-to-Friday pattern, reports Deutsche Welle.
A handful of Japanese companies have already instituted flexible working systems, but the changes made on the corporate landscape by Covid-19 have hastened the debate on the issue and the early signs are that it would have the support of workers and companies. Inoguchi pointed out that enabling workers to choose to have a three-day weekend would give them more opportunities to spend time with their children or elderly relatives, pursue educational opportunities, examine the possibility of other business ventures and contribute to the national economy by consuming.
Teruo Sakurada, a professor of business at Osaka's Hannan University added that he wants changes in the working environment for millions of Japanese to bring an end to "karoshi," the primarily Japanese problem of death brought on by overwork.
A major drawback that has been identified is, inevitably, the lower wage associated with working one day less per week. But that has not proved a complete deal-breaker at companies that have already introduced the option of a four-day working week.