- Japan is getting a new emperor on Wednesday.
- The Japanese government gave citizens a ten-day public holiday to celebrate. The prolonged holiday started on April 27 and ends on May 6.
- Some citizens are celebrating by going on overseas vacations and luxury cruise ship tours.
- But according to some surveys, almost half of the country isn’t happy about the extra-long holiday. Some parents are complaining about extra chores and no childcare.
- The financial industry is also worried that the time off will hurt stocks and the currency.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The Japanese cabinet last November approved a bill to create national holidays on April 30, May 1, and May 2 to celebrate Crown Prince Naruhito’s ascension to emperor on Wednesday, May 1. Naruhito’s father, Emperor Akihito, is abdicating on Tuesday.
The country already has April 29, and May 3 to May 6 – known as “Golden Week” – off as regular national public holidays. Together, and including the weekend of April 27 to April 28, this makes for 10 consecutive days off.
While some citizens are celebrating the extra-long holiday by taking vacations overseas, many others are complaining about the lack of childcare services and having nothing to do.
Extra time to travel and date…
Travel agencies have noticed a dramatic increase in demand for their services, The Japan Times reported in January. The number of reservations for overseas trips have tripled in size, with much of the interest in luxury cruise ships.
Hideki Wakamatsu, a spokesman for Nippon Travel Agency, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that most of its Golden Week tours had sold out and many people are on its waiting list.
Young people often start konkatsu – “spouse-hunting” – activities when they go home during the Golden Week holidays, The Japan Times added – and the extra time off could give them extra time to find partners.
Zwei Co., a major matchmaking company in Japan, told the newspaper it is expecting more customers during this year’s Golden Week and considering discounting some of its services.
… or extra chores and less childcare?
But not everyone is happy about the extra time off. According to a survey by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, cited by AFP, 45% of respondents said they “felt unhappy” about the long vacation while only 35% said they “felt happy” about it.
Many women told an Expedia survey last October that they were dreading extra household chores because their husbands and children will be at home, rather than at work or school, The Japan Times reported.
Another parent tweeted, according to AFP: “For parents in the service sector, the 10 days of holiday is a headache. After-school care, nurseries – everything is closed.”
‘The ridiculous idea of the century’
Workers who are paid by the day or hour will also see their income decrease, The Japan Times reported, citing Shuichiro Sekine, an executive of labour union Haken-Union.
Some people in the service industries, like department store employees, have also been told to work throughout the ten-day holiday without extra pay, The Washington Post reported.
The Daily Gendai, a tabloid popular among office workers, described the ten-day holiday as “the ridiculous idea of the century,” according to the Washington Post.
“Only rich people are delighted,” the Japanese tabloid added.
‘It’s horrifying that we can’t trade for six business days’
Investors in Japan worry that a 10-day market shutdown could derail its currency and stock market. Major financial hubs rarely shut down for this long.
Japan’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, told all the country’s firms to warn customers about the possibility of global market turmoil, and make sure their systems can cope with increased activity before and after the holiday, Reuters reported in January.
Currency traders worry that their inability to go into the office to use in-house terminals could disrupt their work, and fund managers say they will probably make their positions market-neutral by late April to avoid vulnerability to market swings, Reuters said.
Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at financial services firm Libra Investments, told the news agency: “It’s horrifying that we can’t trade for six business days. We’ve got to adjust our positions before the week. Hard to say exactly what I will do then, but I’ll probably have to make my position neutral before the holidays.”
Japan’s workaholics may also struggle to cope
Japan is notorious for its non-stop work culture and rigid labour market, which has seen hundreds of people die from overwork every year over the past decade.
Workers have died of heart failure and suicide due to the toxic work culture. The country even cites the Japanese term for “death from overwork” – “karoshi” – as an official cause of death for many people.
Earlier this month the Japanese government put into effect new labour laws to set a legal cap on long work hours in an attempt to solve the problem.
Seishu Sato, a 31-year-old finance worker, told AFP: “To be honest, I don’t know how to spend the time when we are suddenly given 10 days of holidays.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.