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The Labor Ministry has requested budget appropriations to partially fund temporary staff to replace vacationing workers at small and midsize companies so that workers can take longer holidays, ministry officials said Monday.

The ministry wants 390 million yen as part of its budget requests for the fiscal 2001 state budget to initiate the program, under which companies that have fewer than 300 employees and that grant consecutive holidays of more than two weeks are eligible, the officials said.

The program will provide employers with half the labor costs for replacement workers, as well as consulting fees to improve efficiency and reallocate personnel, the officials said.

According to the ministry, annual working hours for workers in Japan’s manufacturing sector came to 1,947 in 1998, 270 more hours than their French counterparts and 430 hours more than in Germany.

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