It's official...but not till 2016

Good morning everyone,

If you're up now and look outside, it doesn't look very nice. Don't worry though, it's supposed to clear up later today and be a mix of sun and clouds with a high of around 25C. We'll see some rain tomorrow and then they don't seem too sure about what to expect on Tuesday...cloudy skies maybe...but hopefully no rain. From Wednesday, it'll be back to warm and sunny weather with highs in the high 20s.

Do you know what day August 11th is? Well, if you don't, you'd better learn it soon. It's Mountain Day...or more precisely, it will become Mountain Day in two years. That's right. Japan will introduce a new public holiday celebrating mountains.

As far as the theme of the holiday goes, it's pretty hard to complain. Japan is covered in mountains. About 70% of the country is considered uninhabitable due to the mountains that run down the middle of the entire country. And there is that large mountain just south of Tokyo...ahhh...I forget what it's looks like this...
mt fuji
Of course I'm kidding. When people, both Japanese and foreign, think of Japan, the image they have almost always includes Mt. Fuji. On top of that, mountains play a large part in Japan's indigenous religion-Shinto. While most Japanese people would classify themselves as 'non-religious', many people see mountains as an important part of their spiritual well-being.

And then we need to consider the number of public holidays in Japan. Japan is now up to 16 which is the highest number among G8 countries. (In Canada, we have 10)

The government claims that they need to introduce the holidays to make sure that workers take enough holidays during the year. The statistics show that Japanese are given roughly the same number of paid holidays every year as most developed countries-between 10 and 20-but that Japanese people take on average, around 8 paid holidays a year, far fewer than everybody else. The government says that they want Japanese workers to improve their work-life balance and that by adding another national holiday, it will encourage people to take more paid holidays. Does that sound logical to you?

It seems to me that the government is ignoring the real problem...and that is that people are either refused holidays by their bosses...(Which is technically illegal, but happens all the time with no punishment) Or they're pressured to not take holidays because the company is 'so busy at the moment'. (Which is legal, but the company is required to offer another suitable time of the year for a holiday, but they rarely do). Recent studies have shown that workers with a good work-life balance are happier, more productive and make fewer mistakes. But this is hard to sell to the employers in Japan who see holidays as a 'cost' for them rather than a benefit.
The government needs to change the corporate culture in Japan. And as always, the best way to do it is to get the businesses on board. Especially the small to mid-sized ones. They are the worst culprits. Look at me-my boss only gives me holidays once every two years! I hate my boss! Ha ha!

Have a great day!

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