Abe hopeful 'Premium Friday' will boost consumption

TOKYO —

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he hopes that new government-business initiative, called “Premium Friday,” will boost economic consumption.

Abe met Wednesday with the government’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy to discuss the introduction of “Premium Friday,” which allows employees to finish working at 3 p.m. on the last Friday at the end of each month. It is set to begin on Feb 24.

“Premium Friday” is a collaboration between the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry and 15 business groups. Abe said he hopes the initiative will encourage workers to enjoy activities such as shopping, dining and traveling, and thus give the economy a boost.

At the council meeting, some members pointed out that the government should also take children’s lifestyle into consideration.

There still remains some doubt over whether employees will actually go home at 3 p.m. When “Premium Friday” was first announced last year, government officials and businesses said there are many unknown factors.

Some issues yet to be resolved are how to encourage employees to leave their offices so early, how to avoid retailers from getting involved in price wars by offering excessive discounts and what services can be set up to cater to employees who want to enjoy themselves once they finish work at 3 p.m.

Japan Today

  • 14

    spinningplates

    This is funny. So I guess in the first month people will try it out. Then the following month when they see their salary has been adjusted that will be end of that. Or am I missing something?

  • 12

    SenseNotSoCommon

    プレミアム フライデー

    Is it a Suntory ad?

  • 8

    minello7

    Is this a real world these politicians live in.

  • 7

    Mike L

    Abe finally lets his 3rd (4th?) arrow fly!

    Hold onto your seats as the economy is going to go into overdrive from the 24th.

  • 5

    Jalapeno

    How about premium everyday?

    Or better to just do the 4-day/10 hour per day thing and let people have the whole Friday off. Yahoo Japan has started that, I think.

  • 1

    HaiDesu

    Calling any day a "Premium" day does nothing unless there are other incentives besides closing business at 3:00 PM. Most people leaving early will simply see it as a way to get home earlier to relax at home or get some errands done.

    Try something like half tax day (maybe) or no tax day (doubtful). Half tax would allow for some revenue to the city and national government but no tax day will only benefit the merchant.

  • 11

    japan4life

    Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister with the catchy slogans and economic policies that dont work. Letting people off from work a few hours early once a month will not boost consumption if people dont have the money to spend.

  • 1

    FizzBit

    So this is the best thing Abe and his gang could come up with? WOW!

  • 13

    itsonlyrocknroll

    For part timers paid hourly that doesn't appear to be much of a premium any day of the week.

  • 12

    Dango bong

    how about forcing companies to allow employees to use their vacation days?

  • 0

    Reckless

    imagine booking a restaurant that last friday may be tough with the herd mentality,,,

  • 4

    Yubaru

    Some issues yet to be resolved are how to encourage employees to leave their offices so early,

    Ding-dong...wrong answer, should be "How to encourage employers to allow their employees to leave WITHOUT cutting their pay AND not increasing their work hours on other days of the week to compensate for the "free-time"

    Next the government is going to be coming up with more goofy-arsed ideas for how people should use their extra "free" time, and housewives all over the country are going to complain their husbands are coming home too early!

    Just like the problems that people dreamed up when kids started getting Saturdays off from school!

    how to avoid retailers from getting involved in price wars by offering excessive discounts and what services can be set up to cater to employees who want to enjoy themselves once they finish work at 3 p.m.

    Huh (No #2) SO? Let the retailers get into price wars! The consumer is the winner!

  • 1

    randomnator

    Are schools going to cancel clubs on that day? If they don't it negates the purpose somewhat. Nice to see them trying things.

  • 2

    theeastisred

    This must be a joke. Hard to detect any funny elements, however.

  • 0

    jcapan

    There still remains some doubt over whether employees will actually go home at 3 p.m. When “Premium Friday” was first announced last year, government officials and businesses said there are many unknown factors.

    "Doubt" in this case meaning an overwhelming feeling that the initiative will be DOA. "Unknown factors" include such things as how lowly workers can leave their desks at 3pm when their Buchou will be there casting baleful glances until 9pm, when he has a big date at the Kyabakura.

  • 1

    goldorak

    Pachinkos the main/only beneficiaries perhaps which could mean j ppl will have even less money to spend ;)

  • 4

    Disillusioned

    Australia has had a 38 hour working week and a rostered day off once a month for 30 years and the country is surviving just fine. Japan wants to introduce an optional few hours off once a month and they are panicking about how it will effect the economy. The only advantage I see in this is, the izakayas will get a boost once a month when all the salarymen hit the pubs few hours earlier than usual. I suppose that is a boost in consumption - of alcohol!

  • -1

    gogogo

    shakes head

  • 1

    Tokyo-Engr

    @minello7 - You beat me to the question. No - they do not live in the real world. They have an infinite supply of money and heck when they need more they just create it out of thin air!

  • 5

    Wakarimasen

    scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  • 3

    dcog9065

    Not really sure how this will work unless they begin enforcing this rule through all public agencies first. Already my company has said we won't be doing this..

  • 1

    chugmagaga

    I like the idea, no matter how childish it may sound. I know no one will follow it. Come on people don't use the allowed vacations they have.

  • 1

    papigiulio

    Ding-dong...wrong answer, should be "How to encourage employers to allow their employees to leave WITHOUT cutting their pay AND not increasing their work hours on other days of the week to compensate for the "free-time"

    This. For sure this will happen. Anyway everything is in the word ENCOURAGE. Again, no teeth, no action.

  • 1

    HaiDesu

    Gomenasai

    HaiDesuFEB. 16, 2017 - 04:19PM JST Calling any day a "Premium" day does nothing unless there are other incentives besides closing business at 3:00 PM. Most people leaving early will simply see it as a way to get home earlier to relax at home or get some errands done. Try something like half tax day (maybe) or no tax day (doubtful). Half tax would allow for some revenue to the city and national government but no tax day will only benefit the merchant.

    Let me clarify, half tax day would incentivise shoppers and allow the government to get their cut of the shopping. No tax day would only benefit merchants and shoppers so I doubt a no tax day would happen. If a no tax day were to happen, I would bet sales numbers would be huge especially for high priced items like luxury goods, property, or automobiles.

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    I bet you a million dollars it'll only be a suggestion and of course no companies need follow it.

  • 4

    cleo

    I'm sure it was some months ago now that I watched a report on TV about local businesses (bars, restaurants, shops) reacting to 'early Friday' by having special Friday Happy Hours, Friday afternoon sales, etc. People seemed to like it. Maybe it was some pilot scheme outside of Tokyo.

    Most people leaving early will simply see it as a way to get home earlier to relax at home or get some errands done.

    Would that be a bad thing?

  • 0

    sensei258

    @ Yubaru, we often disagree here, but your comment was on the money.

  • 4

    GW

    This is incredibly lame....... And trying to do it the SAME day for everyone...........nuts!

    I have a better idea abe, how about the last Friday of the month Japan ENFORCES its labour laws!!!

  • 3

    gokai_wo_maneku

    Mr. Abe, if you stabilize our situation and give us confidence that we will all have a job in the future, and a pension, then we will spend. And get married, And have children. Why is that so hard to understand? It's the economy, stupid.

  • 1

    klausdorth

    Like they say in the English textbook for 6th grade elementary school students:

    "Nice dream. Good luck!"

    Maybe even 6th graders are smarter than our government?

  • 6

    Mike Wyckoff

    The government thinks letting adults out of work early, one day a month is going to spur on the economy?

    Who dreams up this crap?!

  • -4

    BertieWooster

    Let's see now. We make more money by working less.

    What's Abe's plan? Bankrupt Japan so he can sell it cheap?

  • 2

    ThonTaddeo

    Abe hopeful 'Premium Friday' will boost consumption

    Consumption. Of course.

    Letting office workers go home early, and this clown's first thought is not of better health, happiness, more time spent with children... nope, all he cares about is making his subjects spend!

  • 2

    sf2k

    given the labour conditions people will be forced to make up the time elsewhere.

    Science shows that for optimal mental health people are not to work more than 40 hours a week so this does absolutely nothing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xREb5exvPho

  • -1

    lostrune2

    Casual TGIF

  • 0

    25years in Japan

    I thought that if people earned more that they would spend more regardless of any special day. Things like electric power, gas, rent, food, pension, health insurance, and if lucky, a car for transport.

  • 5

    smithinjapan

    In any case, this is going to be Abe's excuse for not enforcing current laws on overwork; the usual, "Well, we've gone out of our way to try and get you one short day... isn't that enough? Gosh! And that's on top of an additional 6000 yen a year wage increase! And we're trying to limit illegal overwork to only 60 hours a week, you ungrateful heathens!"

  • 1

    borscht

    Watch for Service Zangyo to appear about, oh, 3:00 PM on the last Friday of the month for about two to four hours.

  • 0

    vinarius@pm.catv.ne.jp

    ANOTHER BLURR IDEA of the rich.

  • 0

    PSandoz

    "will encourage workers to enjoy activities such as shopping, dining and traveling"

    So Premium Friday doesn't apply to workers in the retail, catering and leisure industries?

  • -2

    savethegaijin

    In other words, start begging for scraps, peasants.

  • 0

    Strangerland

    So Premium Friday doesn't apply to workers in the retail, catering and leisure industries?

    These are generally industries that are active when other industries aren't.

  • 0

    GW

    hey abe, I got a better idea(as usual!!), have companies MAKE their employee's take their holidays, any holidays NOT taken get paid at 4X their value!

    So if you have 5 days left after the year the company MUST pay the employee for 20days, THIS, might make some REAL changes.

    Oh & DITTO for overtime, start with 2X anything after 40hrs, then after 10hrs overtime its at 4X the hourly rate.

    maybe THEN we can see some real changes in this country, hey I can dream cant I......been doing a lot of that lately!

  • 0

    Poor English Speaker

    Is it also for bosses or superiors?

  • 2

    Moonraker

    how to avoid retailers from getting involved in price wars by offering excessive discounts

    Nooooo!! No, we wouldn't want that kind of price competition, would we?

  • 0

    Reckless

    for the low birthrate I propose an "afternoon delight" each Thursday in a company conference room of your choosing.

  • -2

    fxgai

    The much awaited 3rd arrow, ladies and gentlemen.

  • 2

    Usagi Youjinbou

    How about forcing companies to allow employees to use their vacation days?

    Use UP their vacation days. ALL of the days they're entitled to. (And all the sick days, too, while we're at it.)

    But in any case, with little available income they have at their disposal, cash registers around Japan won't be ringing too loudly any time soon, sadly...

  • 2

    kohakuebisu

    Yeah, nodding my head at the other comments.

    Bad companies, the "black" ones, whose employees need time off the most will simply ignore this, like they ignore national holidays. As before, their workers will get dirty looks, some from co-workers in the same predicament, for trying to take any time off at all.

    Making say 20% of employees have more free time on the same 12 days a year is hardly going to help struggling towns with onsens and areas of natural beauty either. Domestic travel is already massively affected by peaks. My sympathy goes to anyone trying to get back into Tokyo on the Chuo or Kan'etsu at about 7pm on the Sunday after one of these, especially with kids in the car.

  • 0

    Rann Levy

    the issue is not how to make the workers leave at 3p.m, But how to make them want to spend more time with their families and friends by creating a better social environment. this is something no politician can help with , but only we the people should head in this direction.with this thought.

  • 0

    GW

    actually politicians are ESSENTIAL, they need to MAKE it so companies want their staff OUT the door around 1700-1800 every day!

    And also take their holidays, Japan Inc wont do much of anything unless forced too, the average working stiff is caught in a god awful existence with few chances to escape & have a mediocre life let alone a good one

  • 0

    Yubaru

    So Premium Friday doesn't apply to workers in the retail, catering and leisure industries?

    Of course not, they don't matter in Abe's scheme of things. He is probably hoping that there will be a need for more PT help on those days that will further lower the unemployment numbers, so he can point to them as a sign of an improving economy.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    With the extra time this will give salaried workers, they will probably do the same thing that they did when Saturday was dropped as a working day - Get an arbeit (part-time job).

    People need more money, Mr Abe.

    How about lowering taxes and a little bit of austerity for government workers - cut out bonuses, for a start!

  • -1

    HaiDesu

    cleoFEB. 16, 2017 - 06:00PM JST Most people leaving early will simply see it as a way to get home earlier to relax at home or get some errands done.

    Would that be a bad thing?

    Not at all Cleo. I would do the same.

  • 0

    CoconutE3

    Can't go anywhere with no money to spend. At least they'll be able to catch up on sleep!

  • 0

    Myhumbletake

    Most people stay in their office on their own will. They have nothing else to hold on to besides work. How about the companies organize recreative activities that would motivate employees to spend money and time with children, families or friends?

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    Send the boss home at 4pm and then the staff will leave shortly after.......simple

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