Japanese electronics giant Canon and other, seeking to boost Japan’s flagging birth rate, now allows employees to leave early twice a week to encourage them to have more children.
The Japanese birth rate is 1.34 children per woman, well below the 2.1 required to maintain population size, CNN reports. Its population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.
Japan’s 12-hour workday is one factor blamed for the low birth rate, in addition to the country’s high cost of living and social rigidity towards women and parenting.
"It's great that we can go home early and not feel ashamed," Canon employee Miwa Iwasaki told CNN.
"Canon has a very strong birth planning program," Canon spokesman Hiroshi Yoshinaga said to CNN. "Sending workers home early to be with their families is a part of it."
Canon’s 5:30 pm “lights-out” program also helps the company cut overtime expenses during the global economic downturn.
Keidanren, Japan’s largest business group with a membership of 1,300 major corporations, has asked its members to let employees go home early to spend time with families and help improve the birth rate.