National

Survey finds Japanese less active, prefer more family time and fewer working hours compared to three decades ago

Kyodo

Japanese prefer spending more time with their families and less time in office meetings and working late compared with 30 years ago, but are not necessarily hoping for longer vacations, according to a survey by Citizen Watch Co.

The online survey, which was conducted on Sept. 25-26 on 400 adults 20 years old or older, shows that people seem to have become “inactive” on the back of the long sluggish economic situation, according to an expert studying the relationship between people’s lives and time.

The Japanese watch company compared the results with those of a similar survey conducted in 1989, when Japan’s asset-inflated bubble economy was at its peak. The collapse of the bubble economy was followed by a prolonged recession known as the “lost decade.”

In the latest survey, workers said they thought the time they spend in office meetings was “just about right” at 40 minutes, about half of the amount that respondents answered in 1989. They also said they prefer spending less time wining and dining with clients.

Time spent on office automation equipment like computers more than doubled to 2 hours and 53 minutes from 1 hour and 17 minutes in 1989. The percentage of men who said they do not use such equipment at all dived to 2 percent from 22.8 percent.

“The era of using a pen and paper in the work area has ended,” Citizen said.

The amount of monthly overtime has decreased to 12 hours and 39 minutes from nearly 16 hours, and in a further sign that more people seem to prefer spending less time at work, daily family time increased 11 minutes to 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Regarding family life, the time in which couples felt like newlyweds shortened to around 15 months from 18 months, while the right amount of summer vacation is now said to be 8.2 days, shorter than the 9.0 days preferred 30 years ago.

“People probably think it is pointless to take so many vacation days. There’s less time spent going out for drinks and it’s become harder to spend compared to the past,” said Yoshio Arai, a professor at the University of Tokyo.

“Time spent having fun has probably shortened and I have the impression that people have become inactive as a whole.”