Japan’s Newest Mandate

Japan’s Newest Mandate February 10, 2015

Ishaan Tharoor:

The Japanese government plans to submit legislation to the country’s parliament that would make it mandatory for workers to take at least five days of paid vacation a year.

The move reflects the desire of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to curb Japan’s notorious work culture, where office workers are known to log long hours and often work overtime for no additional compensation. The cause for roughly one-third of suicides in Japan in 2011 was attributed to overwork.

A survey by the country’s Labor Ministry in 2013 found that employees only took nine out of an average entitlement of 18.5 days of paid vacation. Another poll, according to the Japan Times, found that 1 in 6 workers took no paid vacation whatsoever.

Americans, known for their uncompromising work ethic, look like laggards in comparison. A 2014 study found that 40 percent of American employees leave vacation days on the table, as part of a post-recession “martyr complex.”

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