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Most People Would Be Delighted With 10 Days Off. Except in Japan

Commuters use their mobile phones while travelling on a coach of the Tokyo Metro network in Tokyo on March 26, 2019. - CHARLY TRIBALLEAU—AFP/Getty Images
Commuters use their mobile phones while travelling on a coach of the Tokyo Metro network in Tokyo on March 26, 2019. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU—AFP/Getty Images

The Japanese government is giving the country an extra-long holiday to commemorate the coronation of the country’s new emperor, but the move has drawn mixed reactions with the country’s famously hardworking citizens fretting over everything from the potentially negative effects on business to a lack of activities with which to occupy their out-of-school children.

A poll in the Asahi newspaper, cited by the Guardian, found that 45% of respondents “felt unhappy” about the long vacation, compared to 35% who said they “felt happy.”

Last year, Japanese lawmakers approved a bill to designate April 30, May 1 and May 2 as national holidays to mark the accession of Crown Prince Naruhito.

Since April 29, Showa Day, is already a public holiday, and May 3 to 6 is the country’s traditional “Golden Week” holiday period—spanning Constitution memorial Day, the so-called Citizen’s Holiday and Children’s Day—the new holidays mean that Japan’s workers are in for a 10-day break, inclusive of a weekend.

But the extended vacation time has many in the financial sector worried about possible market disruption and the increased volatility of stocks and currency that may result. One trader told Reuters that it was “horrifying” that companies will not be able to trade for six business days.

Meanwhile, contract workers, who are paid by the hour or day, say they fear the resultant loss in income. Parents are also anxious that they won’t be able to keep their children occupied, with day-care centers and nurseries shut during the break.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. The Guardian reports that amid these concerns, the travel industry is seeing a significant increase in bookings for overseas trips, signaling that some Japanese, at least, are keen to take advantage of the holiday.

Crown Prince Naruhito will take the throne on May 1, succeeding Emperor Akihito and ushering in a new imperial era known as the Reiwa era.

Write to Hillary Leung at hillary.leung@time.com.