National

60% in seven Japan prefectures still going to office despite emergency

Kyodo

About 60 percent of employees in Tokyo and six other prefectures still commute to offices despite the state of emergency declared to curb the coronavirus pandemic, a think tank survey showed Friday.

The online survey by Persol Research and Consulting Co., covering some 25,000 workers nationwide, also showed that the nationwide telecommuting rate had roughly doubled to 27.9 percent by the middle of the month from 13.2 percent in March.

On April 10, 58.5 percent of regular workers in the seven-prefecture zone said they were still going to the office, showing just how far the nation still has to go to attain the government's target of a 70 percent reduction to slow the virus's spread.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures on April 7 and expanded it to the entire country on Thursday.

From April 10 to 13, 38.8 percent of permanent employees in the seven prefectures telecommuted, with the rate hitting 49.1 percent in Tokyo. But only 13.8 percent teleworked outside those areas, the study showed.

In the capital, the telecommuting rate stood at 23.1 percent in the previous survey conducted between March 9 and 15.

"We assume many people still have to go to their office because of their duties, such as seal stamping, faxing" and other tasks related to paper documents, a Persol Research official said in analyzing the telework trend in Japan.

Among respondents working from home, first-time telecommuters accounted for 68.7 percent, up from 47.8 percent.

The study also revealed that telecommuting in the seven areas spread day by day following the first emergency declaration, with the physical commuting dropping from 61.8 percent on April 8 to 59.0 percent on April 9 and 58.5 percent on April 10.

Before the declaration, 71.7 percent of them went to the office on April 6.

The rate for all-day teleworking in the seven prefectures stood at 18.6 percent on April 6 before rising to 28.6 percent on April 10.

Of the 25,000 respondents, men and women aged between 20 and 59 working at firms with 10 or more employees, about 3,000 were nonregular workers. The previous survey in mid-March only covered about 21,000 permanent staffers.

Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.

Coronavirus banner