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Japan: extended New Year holiday to manage virus risk and boost economy
Planet Labor, 2 November 2020, n°12203 - www.planetlabor.com

On Friday 29 October, during a meeting with the governors of Japan’s prefectures as well as the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and two other business lobbies, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the policy minister in charge of economic revitalisation and coordinating the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, urged representatives of these powerful organisations to take steps to extend the New Year holiday by one week – to 11 January inclusive. These measures are aimed at reducing population concentrations and travel flows in order to limit the increased risk of contagion while consolidating the economic recovery through consumption during this very popular winter break which sees millions of Japanese people reunited with their families and when people traditionally make their first visit of the year to a Shinto shrine (Hatsumōde).  The government’s request has been very well received by the local business community and politicians and follows a call made on 23 October following a council of ministers meeting. Nishimura says there is no doubt that households are to “spend more if they get extra days off before and after the New Year”. Meanwhile Kamon Iizumi, who governs the Tokushima prefecture, speaking on behalf of the governors adds that this is “a great opportunity to transform, through a one-off measure, certain habits and customs in the organisation of work”.