TOKYO, Japan (CNN) — Even before one reaches the front door of Canon’s headquarters in Tokyo, one can sense the virtual stampede of employees pouring out of the building exactly at 5:30 p.m.
In a country where 12-hour workdays are common, the electronics giant has taken to letting its employees leave early twice a week for a rather unusual reason: to encourage them to have more babies.
Canon isn’t the first company to try to motivate their employees to produce future employees so this isn’t the first story Ive read about such incentives, however, with each story like this I read though I want to shout it is too little too late!
“Canon has a very strong birth planning program,” says the company’s spokesman Hiroshi Yoshinaga. “Sending workers home early to be with their families is a part of it.”
Oh doesn’t that sound wonderful (sarcasm) a company birth planning program as if people are robots who need to be told to have kids. Tell`em when to breed, tell `em when to stop.
Japan in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country’s low birthrate.
Unprecedented recession? My impression is that the economic bubble burst of the early 1990s was worse but hey cnn doesn’t quote facts or sources so I will just go with my hunch too.
Keidanren, Japan’s largest business group, with 1,300 major international corporations as members, has issued a plea to its members to let workers go home early to spend time with their families and help Japan with its pressing social problem.
Will more family time really make that much difference when people need other things to raise a family too like money possibly from overtime at work.
One reason for the low birth rate is the 12-hour workday. But there are several other factors compounding the problem — among them, the high cost of living, and social rigidity toward women and parenting.
It isn’t just 12 hours at work people also have to commute, often by train over an hour each way to and from work so that makes it at least a 14 hour day. The part about social rigidity toward women and parenting is the dumbest thing Ive ever read on cnn. It doesn’t even make sense and anyone who knows anything raising kids in Japan knows that being a housewife is not looked down up here as it is in so many other countries it is still a title women can have pride in. Yes the mom is expected to do a lot of the child raising while the father works long hours to provide for the family but how is that social rigidity? Please cnn define your terms! Another factor in fewer children is that the extended family is often far away in another prefecture so the help parents might have received from Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles isn’t available because of distance. Speaking of size people move to large cities for jobs but then have to raise a family in an apartment big enough for a family with two children and not really designed for more. Basically everything is meant with two children in mind.
In addition, Japan’s population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.
Wow I’m impressed that the elderly in Japan are somehow managing to age faster than other humans! And here I thought all humans aged at the same rate each year being the same length for everyone but I guess not.
Analysts say the world’s second-largest economy faces its greatest threat from its own social problems, rather than outside forces. And the country desperately needs to make some fixes to its current social and work structures, sociologists say.
Canon says its 5:30 p.m. lights-out program is one simple step toward helping address the population problem. It also has an added benefit: Amid the global economic downturn the company can slash overtime across the board twice a week.
Like I said before I think simply going home early two days a week is too little too late. Some local governments and companies here have even started to offer cash bonuses to people for each child they have but I read recently that that isn’t helping either. The problem of not having enough population started sixty years ago in 1949 when abortion was allowed and promoted because people were worried Japan would have too big a population. Sixty years later and over fifty million people killed through abortion source it is going to take a while cultural shift to a culture of life to fix things not a few less working hours or throwing money at people.