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Japan proposes revised laws to long working hours

LONG days in the office followed by long nights drinking with colleagues are as much a symbol of Japan. And despite efforts by both government and companies to change this image, tackling the deep ingrained work culture is proving harder than the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected.

Japan has long been known as a place where workers pound long hours, take few holidays and long nights of drinking with their colleagues.

According to the labor ministry, average Japanese full-time employees put in average 173 hours of overtime in 2014.

However, experts suspects the true number is far higher, as most employees under-report their overtime, typical of Japanese corporate structure.

Japanese government and corporations are trying to change this trend. Promoting more productivity.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s submitted a revised Labor Standards Law that would allow firms to exempt well-paid skilled workers from work-hour regulations, which would effectively do away with overtime pay.

However, there are strong opposition to this bill as workers will simply be forced to put in longer hours without due compensation.

Another Japanese corporate culture blamed for declined in birth rate and marital damages are the drinking sessions after work.

Its a coined word between Japanese word for drink and English word 'communication'. A 30 year veteran office worker say it is necessary time spent.

It is a tradition so strongly embedded in Japanese corporate culture, that there are even "How-to-attend" classes held for foreign national working in Japanese companies.These drinking sessions are not compulsory, nor it is an overtime. But most times you are obligated to attend.

Initiative to reduce overtimes and work-drinks may have just started. But it seem it might take sometime yet to get Japanese businessmen home early.


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