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Japan makes a toast to 'Premium Friday' spending drive

Some events draw more homemakers than men in suits

Office workers who left work early enjoy beer at an eatery celebrating Premium Friday. Prices for some menu items were cut to 100 yen.

TOKYO -- The government-led Premium Friday initiative -- letting people out of work early on the last Friday of the month to spur consumption -- has officially rolled out, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself exploring the capital city to enjoy its diversions.

Retailers and restaurants, which hope to benefit the most from the boost in consumption, celebrated with special events and discounts. But many office workers were unable to leave at the suggested 3 p.m. Whether the initiative can yield its intended results is unclear.

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