Ministry urging two-week vacation
The government released a new guideline on working hours Friday aimed at helping workers use more of their vacation time, including taking holidays lasting about two weeks.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry's nonbinding guideline is aimed at curbing long working hours and improving people's work-life balance. It also calls on companies to set targets for paid holidays workers take.
A ministry official in charge of the issue urged companies not to let employees burn out, saying long working hours are a major cause of mental health problems among employees.
According to a ministry survey last year, workers in Japan took an average of 8.5 vacation days in 2008, or 47.4 percent of the average 18 days available to them.
The government is seeking to raise the percentage to 60 percent by 2012 and 100 percent in 2017.
The new guideline, in line with a Cabinet decision in December on the promotion of vacations, calls for companies to check how many days of vacation each worker takes.