CNN reports Canon is letting its employees leave early twice a week for a rather unusual reason: to encourage them to have more babies to make Japan's population younger. In a country where 12-hour workdays are common, Canon is allowing employees to leave work at 5:30 p.m. to boost the country's birthrate:
Japan is in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country's low birthrate. Tell us what you think
At 1.34, the birthrate is well below the 2.0 needed to maintain Japan's population, according to the country's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Keidanren, Japan's largest business group, with 1,300 major international corporations as members, has issued a plea to its members to let workers go home early to spend time with their families and help Japan with its pressing social problem.
One reason for the low birth rate is the 12-hour workday. But there are several other factors compounding the problem -- among them, the high cost of living, and social rigidity toward women and parenting.