More companies implementing 4-day workweek in Japan

Panasonic Corp has joined a small, but growing, number of Japanese companies to offer staff a four-day workweek to encourage better work-life balance.
By: | January 12, 2022

On their extra days off, employees of the Osaka-based electronics conglomerate can take up side jobs and spend time on local volunteer work, chief executive officer Yuki Kusumi said in an investor briefing recently.

“Our responsibility is to strike an ideal balance between the work style and life style for our diverse human capital,” Kusumi said. Panasonic will also allow employees to work from home when their partners are transferred to other locations, he added.

Panasonic’s move is part of a global trend by companies trying to attract and retain talent in a tight job market. launched a four-day week for select employees in 2018, and consumer-goods giant Unilever  started a year-long trial of the shortened week for its New Zealand staff in December 2020.

In Japan, a group of lawmakers is discussing a proposal to grant employees a day off in addition to the two break days a week, to ensure their well-being.

Nevertheless, companies implementing a four-day workweek remain a small minority in workaholic Japan. Just more than 8% of Japanese firms offered more than two guaranteed days off, a survey from a Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare conducted in 2020 showed.

READ: More than 30% of Japanese dads take parental leave

However, there are signs that more companies might follow suit. Shionogi & Co, a pharmaceutical company developing an oral COVID-19 treatment, will offer its staff the option for three days off per workweek from April. Yahoo Japan Corp and Sompo Himawari Life Insurance began a third day off in 2017 only to staff caring for children or ageing relatives, according to Nikkei.