Japanese Cosmetic Giant Shiseido Institutes Curfew For Workers

shiseidoJapanese cosmetic giant Shiseido has instituted a 10PM closing curfew for all its employees. This is part of a larger effort to encourage workers to spend more time with their families and less time on the premises, further cutting down on workplace overtime costs, and attempting to reinvigorate Japan's economy.

"They turn the lights out all over the building at 10PM and we all have to leave," said Shiseido spokesman, June Sato. Security guards have even been told to take down the names of anyone who remains at work after 10PM. Shiseido is joining the ranks of other Japanese companies -- and the federal government -- that are taking similar steps to cut back on overtime hours of workers in an attempt to offset the growing costs of the economic revitalization that is just not taking hold in Japan.

Shrinking and Aging All At Once

Japan is struggling to bounce back from the global economic slump for two reasons. First, Japan's population is getting smaller as fewer women have children and small families remain the norm in Japan. Japan has the lowest birth rate out of any country in the world and the newly empowered Democratic party has even gone so far as to offer a monthly stipend (about $280) to any family that procreates. The stipend is offered per child and given to the family each month until the child reaches junior high school.

At the same time, the advances in health care and medicine mean that people are able to live longer than ever before. "Japan's economic power, advanced medicinal technology and healthy diet have enabled its people to have the longest life expectancy in the world," noted Ichiko Fuyuno, senior science and innovation officer at the British Embassy in Japan. By 2015 one in four Japanese will be 65 or older. Ultimately this means that in Japan there is a serious problem with the birth rate. If there are not enough people being born each year (the current rate is less than 1.5 per woman), there will not be enough workers in the future paying taxes, which in turn pays the pensions and health care costs for the country's growing elderly population.

Given the dilemma, Shiseido's decision to institute a curfew so workers spend more time at home seems like a pretty smart idea. Get people out of the office on time so that no overtime has to be paid and hope that they spend more time at home procreating which could solve Japan's other economic problems of having a shrinking and aging society all at once.

New Year's Parties Scaled Back and Bonuses Cut

Hon Hai, a Taiwan high-tech firm that makes parts for Ipods and Nintendo consoles is also taking steps to cut costs. Instead of the lavish Lunar New Year party that the company throws each year (it spent $6 million fete last year on a party that included cash prizes, gifts, and a car), Hon Hai is opting for a modest party this year.

With trade-reliant Asian economies still struggling after a global slump, more and more companies that are in recession are cutting production, freezing job recruitment and laying off workers in an effort to save money, so being forced to work regular hours only, and no overtime hours like Shiseido employees, seems like a pretty good deal.

According to the United Daily News, "about 20 percent of Taiwan firms will eliminate bonuses this year," so having a job at all, even if they make you go home at night and spend time with your family doesn't seem all that bad.

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