Shrine
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Japan could extend the New Year holidays by a whole week in 2021

The government plans to request companies to resume business only on January 12

By
Emma Steen
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In a country that is somewhat infamous for its work culture extremes, long vacations can be hard to come by, but national holidays could look a bit different for us in the next few months. On top of encouraging ‘workation’ across the country, the government is looking into extending the standard three-day New Year’s holiday into a full week for 2021. 

On October 23, Japan’s designated coronavirus panel met to discuss additional steps required to help the nation recover from the pandemic. The experts noted that it's crucial to keep public spaces from being overcrowded to prevent infections from spiking over the holidays. This could prove to be a challenge during the first three days of the New Year, when it is common for Japanese people to visit shrines in a tradition known as hatsumode.

According to NHK, economic revitalisation minister Yasutoshi Nishimura called for the extension of national New Year holidays in 2021. He proposed that the government request companies to close until January 11. Though the New Year holidays typically end on January 3, Nishimura urged that companies should only ask their workers to return the following week on Tuesday January 12, a day after Coming of Age Day (January 11, already an annual public holiday), to prevent a rush of people travelling on the same days. 

It’s unclear as to how many companies will agree to extend their holidays, or for how many days they would extend them for. Nevertheless, this proposed measure could significantly impact the way people travel on those dates and hopefully curb the spread of infection. 

Follow live updates on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Tokyo and Japan here

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