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Japan to convenience stores: 'please' solve rift over long hours

Tokyo lacks authority in labor dispute between companies and franchisees

Some 7-Eleven stores have begun closing during late-night hours on a trial basis in response to pressure from franchisees. (Photo by Konosuke Urata)

TOKYO -- A Japanese cabinet minister urged the nation's convenience store chains on Friday to resolve the mounting discontent among short-handed franchisees, making the unusual request in the absence of legal authority for the government to intervene.

Many franchise owners, contractually bound to 24-hour operations, staff their outlets themselves for long hours due to Japan's deep shortage of workers.

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