Nov 8 2019 What you need to know about TAKING ANNUAL LEAVES IN JAPAN!

Japan is known to be a country where overworking and overtime is the norm. In 2018 according to an annual survey by online travel agency Expedia, Japanese workers took the fewest paid holiday leaves among 19 surveyed countries. Taking into consideration that in average they only take half of the total number of paid leaves they are entitled to use. This year the Japanese government came up with a solution to encourage people to take more leaves. Earlier this April 2019, employees are required to take at least 5 days off of paid vacation per year if they are due 10 days or more of paid vacation. The connotation attached to taking paid leaves equating to being lazy or fear of appearing unmotivated is one of the top reasons why Japanese employees seldom take their paid holidays. Hopefully with the help of this new law and the surge of foreign employees in Japan, Japanese employees shift their mindset to a more healthy and work-life balance point of view.

If you recently started working in Japan and want to know more about how the paid holidays are computed or taken into consideration by Japanese companies then keep reading!

1.) Legal Holiday/Non-Legal Holiday

The Statutory holiday under Labor Standard Law are one day a week, or 4 days or more in a 4-week period. If the company has 2 days of holiday a week, one of them is considered “Legal Holiday” while another is considered as “Non-legal Holiday” which would affect the calculation rate for the allowance for working on a holiday.

It means that in a usual office setting, the “Legal Holiday” is usually Sunday and “Non-legal Holiday” is Saturday. If you, in any case, get asked to work on a “Legal Holiday” the hourly rate is higher compared to a “Non-legal Holiday.”

2.) Annual Paid Leave

The minimum paid annual leave regulated by Japanese government is at least 10 days. If one has been employed continuously for 6 months from the day of being hired and have reported to work on at least 80 percent of the total working days, paid leave of 10 working days, either consecutive or divided are given. Part-time workers should also be covered in principle

Full-time employees are entitled the basic 10 days paid leave as long as these following conditions are attained:

  • Work at least 30 hours per week
  • Reports to work 80% of the total working days
  • Must have at least been with the company for 6 months (Some companies are very lenient with this)

The number of your paid leaves increase the longer you stay with that company. See the table below.

The above numbers are the minimum. Some companies would give paid leaves earlier than 0.5 year of continuous service, or more days would be given. It is stipulated in the working rules of the company (就業規則・shugyokisoku).

You will receive the same salary as if you worked your usual hours as stated in your contract.


You can use your paid holidays within 2 years of its validity. So, if you weren’t able to finish all your paid leaves that year it accumulates to the next year.


Basically, you should be able to decide when to take your paid holidays. In terms of applications, companies have different rules on when and how to apply for your paid leaves. Some require you to apply or announce your leave a minimum number of days or weeks before the actual date of leave you want to take. But it is your right to take your leave as long as you comply with your company’s rules when applying and announcing your dates for a paid holiday.


Unfortunately, Japan doesn’t formally recognize sick leaves. If you are sick, the rule of thumb is that you have to be responsible and use your paid leave for it. However, this is a case by case basis. Some companies, especially the more global ones, do provide employees with a number of sick leaves different from their annual paid leaves.

In any case, do not feel the pressure of the traditional salary mind mindset in Japan. You should exercise your right to use paid annual leaves. In fact you should be able to convince your co-workers that a refresher is what you need to boost productivity and keep a healthy balance between work and life.

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