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Subsidies to Encourage Shorter Working Hours at Small Companies

February 25, 1993

TOKYO (AP) _ The Labor Ministry said Thursday it will provide subsidies to encourage small and medium-sized companies to shorten their employees’ working hours.

Japan’s labor laws provide for a work week of 44 to 46 hours. The Labor Ministry wants to shorten the week to 40 hours by 1996.

The government is encouraging shorter working hours to stimulate the economy by giving workers more time to spend their earnings and to help them enjoy a more comfortable life.

Masatoshi Ogasawara, a Labor Ministry official, said $4,200 to $25,000 in subsidies will be paid to companies that trim working hours by at least two hours a week and invest more than $42,400 for that purpose.

Investments could be used to increase productivity by automating some positions or buying more technogically advanced equipment, thus possibly saving the company money in the long run.

Ogasawara said the size of a subsidy would depend on how many workers the company employs.

Ogasawara said that on average, a worker at a company with more than 500 employees worked 183 hours of overtime in 1992. Companies with fewer than 100 employees worked 127 hours of overtime, he said.

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