Aiming to prevent karoshi or "death by overwork", the Japanese government has introduced new measures to force workers to take their paid leave.

The Japanese government aims to raise the percentage of paid leave taken from 48.8% in 2013 to 70% by 2020, by proposing a revision in the Labour Standards Law, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

According to a survey by the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training for regular workers in 2011, 60% of workers were reluctant to take leave because "taking time off would be an inconvenience to colleagues", while another 53% said they "had no time for days off due to a heavy workload".

Under the current Labour Standards Law, annual paid leave of between 10 to 20 days are entitled to workers employed continuously for over six months and report for more than 80% of their predetermined working days. The number of days of paid leave increases by one day with every year of continuous employment.

However, employees are required to first request and designate the period of paid leave to their companies. If a company does not grant paid leave when employees do not request for it, it is not considered as a violation of the law.

Hence, the government has decided to encourage workers to take leave by imposing responsibility onto companies to designate a period for paid leave to be taken, via an amendment to the Labour Standards Law.

In the proposed bill, companies are to designate a period for employees to take paid leave, also taking into account requests by employees.

A session meeting of the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry's advisory body on labour policies will discuss the number of designated days  to be set.

This proposed bill will be submitted to the ordinary Diet (parliamentary) session on  January 26th.

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