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THE STATE / ASIA

Japanese Workers Laboring Less

October 24, 1998| Associated Press

The minimum workweek for full-time employees in Japan in 1997 was reported to have fallen below 40 hours for the first time since the government started tracking the statistic in 1966. Weekly fixed working hours at private companies that responded to a Labor Ministry survey fell on average 1 1/4 hours from 1996 to 39 1/2 hours, Kyodo news agency reported. The Labor Ministry attributed the decline to more companies limiting the workweek to 40 hours and adopting a five-day, rather than six, workweek, the report said. The report did not mention if Japan's recession--the deepest in 50 years--had an impact. The sluggish economy already has forced many companies to limit overtime. The ministry sent surveys to 5,300 private-sector companies with 30 or more employees, of which 90.4% replied.

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