Japanese Can’t Take More Than 8 Days of Vacation

Results from a Five-Country Vacation Attitude Study

Recently in Japan, efforts to improve working styles and office productivity have been the focus of much attention. Indeed, one of Japan’s more negative reputations is one where Japanese people work long hours and where overtime is a big problem. But is Japan really so special in this regard? In this article we use the results of a Koeeru Global omnibus survey on the use of consecutive vacations days in Japan, the United States, Germany, Singapore, and Mexico.

Number of Days Off Per Year

In our questionnaire, we asked respondents how many days off they can take off in a give year. It might be no surprise to learn that Germany came out on top with over 3 weeks of vacation, and Japan was at the bottom, with only 8.76 days off a year.

CountryMaleFemaleBoth Sexes

Globally, there is often the image that Europeans take more holidays than other regions, and indeed, Germany comes out at the top of this survey, with both men and women reporting more than 20 days off a year. On the other hand, Japan ranked lowest, with men taking 12.5 days off and women taking a paltry 4.95 days off. This makes for an average of 8.76 days a year, the only single-digit response amongst all countries. Obviously, working environments and the feeling of being able to take off days varies greatly country to country.

Gender Disparities in Vacation Time

It should also be noted that in all countries, men had a greater ability to take leave than women. This was especially true in Japan, where men felt that they could take nearly a full week more leave than women could. Perhaps this is one reflection as to why Japan ranks low in gender equality studies.

The Young Take Less Vacation than the Old

Taking a look at the data by age group, it is surprising that the younger generations in Japan and the US are less likely to take vacations. In the US, in particular, the number of days off increases significantly for those 55 years old and older. In Japan, the number of vacation days for those aged 23-35 is very small (6.47 days), making seem that taking a vacation is difficult after just joining the workforce. On the other hand, Germany shows more than 20 vacation days for all age groups, indicating that the environment for taking vacations is well established there.


Allowing People to Take Leave, Regardless of Gender or Age

Looking at the data from these five countries, it becomes apparent that it is especially difficult to take long vacations in Japan. At the same time, work style reform is a hot topic in the country, especially as a countermeasure to the declining working population and birthrate.

Workplace reform aims to realize a society in which workers can choose a variety of work styles according to their individual circumstances, so that each and every one of them can have a better future outlook.

Website of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare

In order to realize such a future, it is also important to create an environment where everyone feels that they can take long periods of leave, regardless of age or gender. If Japan wanted to improve in this regard, taking Germany as a benchmark would do no harm.

Questionnaire Details

  • Countries Surveyed: Japan, USA, Germany, Singapore, Mexico
  • Target Respondents: Male and Females, aged 18-79
  • Respondent Numbers: Japan (1047), USA (1036), Germany (1030), Singapore (541), Mexico (1022)
  • Survey Period: April 2018
  • Survey Method: Online Panel Survey (Koeeru Global omnibus survey)

Koeeru Trend regularly presents the results of global surveys conducted by Koeeru or Koeeru’s partners using our international online research system. If you have any questions about this data or would like to request a reprint, please feel free to contact us on the contact page.

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