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Japan's push for longer weekend butts with cultural norms

Lack of support for Premium Friday could hinder economic benefit, labor reform

The Japanese government and business lobbies hope Premium Friday will get people out of the office early and spending.

TOKYO -- Ayumi Kobayashi, a 32-year-old information technology consultant, had mixed feelings when she opened an email from her company last month. It was an announcement urging employees to leave work early on the last Friday of every month as part of a campaign dubbed Premium Friday, which kicks off today. 

At the behest of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and big business lobbies, employees are encouraged to leave the office early in the hope of driving consumption while also curbing the country's notoriously long working hours. 

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