Japanese pay least attention to vacation days: survey

Kyodo, Staff Report

An online survey has shown that Japanese, more than any other workers canvassed globally, appear to pay the least attention to vacation days owed, with over half unable to cite their annual paid leave entitlement.

The survey last October by the online travel agency Expedia Inc. said 53 percent of Japanese do not know how much annual leave they can take, the highest among any of the 26 countries and regions included in the study.

The Netherlands ranked second at 38 percent, followed by Norway at 28 percent. The result seems to confirm the stereotypical image of the “Japanese workaholic.”

In the survey, 9,273 workers 18 and older responded.

Around 18 percent of Japanese said they feel guilty taking paid leave, which also ranked at the top of the poll, followed by the United States at 10 percent.

Japanese cited “a lack of staff” as a reason for not taking owed holidays, suggesting they worry about delays in meeting their responsibilities and inconveniencing colleagues.

The survey also said about 13 percent of Japanese “cannot get work out of their minds” while on holiday — the highest ratio among all countries and regions surveyed.

Also, for the second consecutive year, the study said Japanese were the world’s second most vacation-deprived workers, with 40 percent of paid holidays going unused. South Koreans came in first at 60 percent.

Only 39 percent of Japanese respondents said they wanted more holidays.

While 79 percent of workers globally said they believe there is a “great deal or a fair amount” of correlation between vacations and overall happiness, only 52 percent of Japanese agreed a balanced work-life schedule is important— the lowest of all the countries and areas surveyed.

As many as 58 percent of Japanese said they spent paid holidays on short-term vacations.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    To me this is a sad indictment of the Japanese system, not something worthy of praise. It’s usually reported in the vein of “Japanese workaholics”, but are they really? Do they really want to spend all their time at work? Or, have they been conditioned over the last few decades to think that way? How many people sleep on the train, complain of being tired, have NO hobby to speak of? It’s my opinion that a collusion of business and government have played upon the traditional “shame culture” of Japan to create a pliant workforce. One that tells itself it wants to work, and must work itself even to the point of death, rather than face the shame of doing something so “selfish” as taking a holiday. A rested worker is a happy worker, a productive worker. If I haven’t had enough sleep or rest, I’m much less likely to smile at a customer so they are less likely to be happy and spend their money, simple.


    JAPANESE ARE the most nationalists/ patriotic citizens on planet earth. Japan miracle is world famous. They will do anything for their country. They are conditioned to do so. They do not take leaves even if they do they feel guilty. JAPAN/SWEDEN are the countries which should emulated by the rest of the globe.