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Workers at major Japanese firms will have an average of nine consecutive days summer vacation, the highest number since surveys began in 1985, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The average number of days off is up 1.6 days from last year, the ministry said, adding that the longest summer break to be given by a firm is 23 days, by chemical company Nichia Corp. in Tokushima Prefecture.

The company said it will give a three-day vacation beginning July 20 and a 20-day holiday beginning July 28.

The survey covered 1,219 companies, the ministry said. Three or more consecutive days off in July and August are regarded as a summer vacation in the survey. If a summer vacation is divided into two or more parts, the days are totaled.

The survey shows three or more days off in a row will be given by 1,030 companies, or 84.5 percent of respondents, up 1.2 percentage points from the previous year.

Of the 1,030, 777 firms will give more than seven days off, up 260 from last year.

The survey also shows 621 firms increased the number of days off from last year, while 103 decreased it.

Most companies laid the increase to an extended annual Bon holiday in mid-August, which will occur because Aug. 12, which is just before the holiday, is a Sunday.

The ministry said the increase also reflects a desire by workers for more days off. Manufacturers are giving an average of 10 days off, up from 8.4 last year, while nonmanufacturing firms are providing 7.7 days off, up from 6.2 last year, according to the survey.

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