TOKYO >> The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has begun discussing a four-day workweek plan that would expand Japan’s flexible work styles.
Employers would be required to offer full-time employees the option to take three days off, while maintaining the standard five-day workweek.
The party intends to present a proposal to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga this spring.
In January, Kuniko Inoguchi, head of the party’s Headquarters for Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, presented a draft to launch discussions. It states that the four-day workweek should be voluntary, and that any plan would be introduced in the private sector as a trial before it was expanded to civil servants.
Inoguchi said remote work has progressed during the pandemic, indicating there’s room for Japanese society to adapt to other flexible work styles.
She said a shortened workweek would allow workers to better accommodate caring for their children and elders. It would also provide them with time to further their education.
Incentives for small and medium-size companies are being considered.
Four-day workweeks have already been introduced by a few companies. In some cases, salaries were cut by 10% to 20%.
Not everyone backs the plan.
“There are other ways of working that need to be reviewed. Taking three days off every week is unrealistic,” said one veteran party member.