Japan workers took 62% of paid leave allocation in 2022: gov't survey

Japan saw private-sector workers use more of their paid leave in 2022, at 62.1 percent on average or 10.9 out of 17.6 days of time off they were entitled to, as the country tries to reduce overwork, a recent government survey showed.

While the total ratio was a record high, up 3.8 percentage points from the previous year, the results showed the government still has a considerable way to go if it hopes to achieve its goal of 70 percent or more by 2025.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's General Survey on Working Conditions was conducted in January, soliciting 6,421 private firms with 30 full-time employees or more, of which 3,768 gave valid responses.

By company size, the rate stood at 65.6 percent for firms with 1,000 employees or more, compared with 57.1 percent for those with 30 to 99 workers, according to the survey published on Oct. 31.

By industry, post offices and other businesses offering multiple services had the highest rate of paid leave used at 74.8 percent, while the food and accommodation services industry was the lowest at 49.1 percent.

As part of efforts to address Japan's notoriously punishing work culture in which long hours are expected, the government has set itself the target of increasing the take-up of its so-called "work-interval system," which sets a standard number of hours between the end of a working day and the start of the next, to 15 percent of companies or more by 2025.

But the survey found that only 6.0 percent of the firms introduced the system.

In April, a separate survey by travel firm Expedia Inc. said workers in Japan used 60 percent of their paid leave last year, putting Japan second-to-last ahead of the United States in an international ranking on the rate of paid leave taken. The survey covered 16 countries and regions including South Korea, Germany and Taiwan.

© Kyodo News