Government Worries; Japanese Workers Avoid Vacation

Most of us wish we had more vacation days, not less, and the same is true in Japan. However, Japanese workers admit they're taking fewer vacation days than ever and the Tokyo Labor Department is worried about the consequences.

The department reports that a recent poll of 2,581 workers revealed they plan on taking only six days of vacation this summer. Many of the workers said they wished they could take 8-10 vacation days.

The Tokyo Labor Department actually encourages workers to take more vacation time. Most workers in Japan are allowed 18 vacation days, though very few take them. The government began its campaign to encourage vacations some 10 years ago when doctors began attributing rising numbers of heart attacks, strokes and suicides to overwork.

As in the United States, the majority of workers blame their reluctance to take vacation time on layoffs and restructuring efforts that have increased their workload to the point that they don't feel comfortable taking time off. Some said that their employer made taking time off difficult and said they worried that by taking vacation time, they were causing a hardship for coworkers.

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