What's So Super about a Friday?
Effective from February 2017, the last Friday of the month, the Japanese are to look at Fridays from a fresh perspective - one different from another. Why? It's because of a new campaign starting today to discriminate the last Friday each month from the rest of the Fridays.
With effect from February 24, 2017, a campaign kicked off to kill two birds with a single stone called Premium Friday. On every last Friday each month, workers are now free to leave office at 15:00 to do whatever they please away from work.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry made a public announcement to release its staff at about 15:00 and Minister Seko himself left office earlier and headed for Shibuya where he played a round of curling at a local department store. He commented:
"Well, curling is no game of mine and I found it hard to play properly. But it was good to spare time for leisure when you are supposed to be at work."
A joint council membered by both public and private bodies received some 4000 applications for the campaign logo adopted by private corporations and shopping centers. A variety of services and events are under way with a view to stimulating business targeting workers leaving office early.
Some government offices and private corporates advise the workers to take paid vacation on Friday afternoons, while consumer-minded businesses are less supportive to the scheme.
True, certain business sectors find it difficult to comply - finance, logistics and medium/small industries where working hours are harder to curtail. It's interesting how far this Premium Friday can sets in among the working bees in Japan and how the government and financial circles find ways through Premium Friday to stimulate consumption and to streamline working environment in a single stroke. (Nathan Shiga)