Policy / Systems / Technology

November 25, 2006


Government White Paper: Long Working Hours a Major Cause of Falling Birth Rate.

Keywords: Government Policy / Systems 

A White Paper published September 9, 2006 by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare cites the long hours worked by the child-rearing generation, particularly those in their thirties, as one of the main factors in Japan's falling birth rate. It emphasises that businesses can fulfil their social responsibilities by providing a more employee-friendly working environment that enables greater work-life balance.

The White Paper states that one in four men in their thirties works over 60 hours a week, and the overall proportion of working long hours is also rising. It makes a connection between the rising number of overworked people and the fall in social vitality, and indicates that businesses and citizens need to start thinking in terms of new working patterns, which include the active encouragement of parental leave and a reduction in working hours for fathers. The paper also urges a reassessment of the consumer's endless pursuit of convenience, pointing out that round-the-clock services, same-day delivery and similar services inevitably bring about longer working hours.

The White Paper introduces 34 examples of progressive initiatives from around the country. In one example, the Tokyo-based Internet server rental company Clara Online has introduced systems for harmonising work and life, such as shorter working hours to tie in with nursery hours, and home office support so that workers can take part in important meetings through video-conferencing during school holidays.

In addition, the White Paper presents a vision of a "mutual support system" society that gives elderly people eager to work the chance to use their skills for local educational, environmental and disaster prevention activities. Such a society would expect to see an increase in the number of people contributing to social security and the community, curbing the excessive burden on the public social security system caused by the rapid decline in birth rate and ageing of the population.


Posted: 2006/11/25 11:27:23 AM
Japanese version