by Ewa Nowogorski
Japan loves its national holidays, and save for June and October, there is at least one holiday every month of the year. In most countries, this would translate to days off work, and while that is true for government employees here in Japan, the same cannot be said for company employees and blue collar laborers.
The amount of annual paid leave full-time employees receive is pretty low compared to other countries. You get more paid days off the longer you work for your company, but you are guaranteed 10 days off every year at minimum, and you can get up to 20 days off per year if you have worked with a company for 6.5 years or more.
The number is slightly lower for part-time workers.
The government has recently been trying to spread announcements that encourage people to take their paid leave, but the law and the lip service is really an in-theory-only type of thing, as are multiple other laws in this country, as we can observe in many other countries.
Workers are technically allowed their paid leave, and they can choose to take it during whatever time of the year they please, but workers seldom take all of their vacation days because of the burden they’d be placing on their co-workers if they did.
Just because a worker is on vacation doesn’t mean their company is too. Their responsibilities do not temporarily disappear, but rather they are transferred to someone else. Their workload must still be taken on by somebody. This usually means that one of their coworkers ends up doing a 2 person job, slaving away doing overtime while their coworker is relaxing in some hotel, far away from the stress of work and responsibility. Obviously, doing such a thing can lead to resentment of your coworkers and can result in a toxic, unfriendly social environment. Because of this, Japanese people rarely muster up the courage to demand their rightful days of rest.
American workers usually are not shy about taking paid leave, and many people take 1 or 2 weeks of holiday every year on average. Ironically, US workers are not legally entitled to any paid holiday at all. However, in reality, most US employers will offer their workers paid holiday time.This is a great contrast from Japan.