In Japan, the authorities are trying by different means to boost the birth rate. Aichi, in the center of the country, has thus just created a new holiday slot for children during the traditional school calendar.
This is the new tool of a Japanese prefecture to boost the birth rate: a new kind of vacation for children, individualized holidays that are not in the official school calendar. Each family will be able to decide to go on vacation for a few days with the children without risking a word of absence from school.
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This is an idea of the authorities of the prefecture of Aichi, an area in central Japan, which suffers, like all the other regions of the country, from a collapse in the number of births. Last year, there were twice as many deaths in Japan as births.
Aichi Prefecture officials are willing to try new experiments to promote family life. They thus attack the rigidity of the Japanese school calendar, one of the subjects which families often complain about: in Japan, there is no zone A, B and C as in France. Everyone is on vacation, all over the country, at the same time. Prices are therefore extremely high at these times, whether for hotels or planes. And you have to book everything months in advance, which makes family trips practically impossible.
Three personalized days off
In Aichi, the authorities want to offer flexible leave to all families so that parents can take a short trip outside school holidays with their children. From the start of the next school year, families will have three days of personalized leave. They must notify the school in advance of their child’s absence and the student must agree to catch up on his own for the lessons he has missed. For the reform to be accepted, the prefecture explained that it was a question of giving more time to children to be with their parents who sometimes work on weekends, but that it was also an opportunity to learn differently. In their presentation, the authorities also speak of “eduvacations”, a portmanteau word between education and holidays. The children will be able to visit, on these days, historical monuments or museums which will enrich their knowledge.
We do not yet know if many families are candidates since this new concept has just been validated, but it will probably be used very little. In Japan, social pressure is very strong and families may hesitate to push their children to miss three days of school. Japanese employees are already reluctant to take the holidays that are due to them. Here, the longer you stay in the company, the more paid holidays you have, but with a maximum of 20 days per year. Employees often only take part of this paid leave for fear of being looked down upon by their colleagues or their boss.
In its latest study on the subject, the local Ministry of Labor revealed that employees only take, on average, 9 days off per year. It is not sure that the new free leave system will be very successful.