The first week of 2016 has kicked off with stories that run from the seemingly ‘no brainer’ - Tokyo police urge partiers not to sleep in traffic, The Asahi Shimbun. Down to the thoroughly depressing - Rationing hits Japan’s nappy trade as Chinese demand soars, Financial Times. Picking up with the cutesville - Soccer player most popular job choice for boys in Japan, chef favored by girls: survey, The Mainichi.
Today though, we want to try and come to terms with the bombshell dropped by a number of news sources over the last couple of days that, Japanese pay least attention to owed vacation days (KYODO).
Well, stop the press!!! Didn’t we know this already? In fact, it was only last year that the Abe administration tried to get stronger with companies, wanting them to force/encourage workers to start using more of their vacation days in a bid to prevent the culture of karoshi, or death by overwork. Have people forgotten already?!
It seems though, that new information has come to light, from the rather bizarre source of online holiday booking giant Expedia Inc. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Aren’t Expedia going to tell everyone that they’re not taking enough holidays?’. Well, you would think so. Actually, none of the news articles we’ve read specify the source beyond Expedia Inc, but perhaps they are referring to Expedia's 2015 Vacation Deprivation Study, about which you can find the press release here.
According to the press release, of 20 paid vacation days offered to Japanese workers, on average, 8 remain unused (less than I had assumed, if I’m honest). This puts Japan in second place, behind South Korea; 15 days offered, 9 unused. Countries whose residents use all of their vacation days include; Brazil, U.A.E, the UK, France and Germany. In fact, Europe seems to come out top in either having the healthiest perspective on work, or the laziest!
What’s the expat-in-Japan perspective on all of this? A common reaction seems to be disbelief that Japanese workers would allow their employers to ‘screw them over’ in such a way. One assumes that this isn’t the sentiment of those of us in the eikaiwa racket! But the vacation days are there, aren’t they? They’re being offered for people to take. So, why aren’t they taking them?
Ever the polite bunch, one common reason for Japanese not taking vacation days seems to be that doing so would inconvenience other co-workers. The question here though, is do you, expats in Japan, feel the same? I guess Expedia is hoping you don’t!
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