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Mixed reviews over 10-day 'Golden Week' holiday around 2019 imperial succession

These calendar months show the 10-day Golden Week holiday set to run from April 27 to May 6, 2019. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- An extended 10-day "Golden Week" holiday period to celebrate the 2019 imperial succession has drawn mixed reviews after a bill on the lengthy break was enacted in the Diet on Dec. 8.

The one-time holiday will begin from Saturday, April 27 and run through Monday, May 6. Based on an existing law that stipulates that weekdays sandwiched between national holidays become public holidays, April 30, one day after the Day of Showa, and May 2, one day before Constitution Day, will become public holidays. The period from May 4 to 6 has already been designated as national or public holidays.

The tourism industry has high hopes that the long holiday will lead to a boost in business. Major travel agency JTB Corp. has started accepting reservations for travel abroad during the 2019 Golden Week holiday period. Bookings for overseas tours are three times higher than an average year, and those for European destinations are five times more than the average. A public relations official at the company said, "We have accepted many reservations for long flights."

Nippon Travel Agency Co., forecasting a growing demand for travel to Europe during that period, started to offer 1.5 times more guided package tours to the region than the previous year, starting June this year. Bookings have already been received for some of the tours.

Meanwhile, some companies are taking a more cautious view. While Sanrio Entertainment Co., which operates the "Sanrio Puroland" theme park in the city of Tama, Tokyo, expects a 5 to 8 percent increase in visitors during the Golden Week next year compared to the same period in 2018, a public relations official said, "There are apparently many people who wish to go abroad during the extended holiday period. So, we're not sure what's actually going to happen then."

"The demand for leisure usually increases during the Golden Week holiday, but it is easily affected by the weather," said a public relations official at Oriental Land Co. that operates Tokyo Disney Resort in the city of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, east of the capital.

For working mothers, there are also mixed feelings about the long holiday.

"My children will have holidays from school and day care during the extended break. It's important for me to spend time with my children, but I become depressed when thinking about making three meals a day for 10 days," said a 30-year-old mother, a resident of Yokohama's Minami Ward, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. The homemaker has a 7-year-old son at elementary school and a 4-year-old daughter in day care.

The woman's life is always centered on her children on weekends. While on weekdays, after seeing them out in the morning, she does all the housework through the afternoon until they return home. "I want to go on a trip, but I think we will be tired of the crowds everywhere. I think that summer and winter holidays are long enough," she added.

The long holiday period has also drawn concerns about a decrease in income for non-regular workers who are paid on a daily or hourly wage basis.

The long break will be a tough time for people who work by hour or day. A female employee in her 50s, a resident of the city of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, works in the manufacturing industry. "My income will be decreased by one-third because of the break, but my living expenses, including house rent, will remain unchanged," she said.

In the past, the woman did part-time work to cover the shortfall in her income. However, she said, "I don't know whether there are part-time jobs during the holiday period."

"I know there's no use saying this, but why is there an extended holiday period," she lamented.

Tatsuya Sekiguchi, chief of the Japan Community Union Federation for non-regular and other workers, pointed out, "There are irrational pay gaps between regular and non-regular workers because of public holidays. It is necessary to take countermeasures to provide bigger bonuses and other revenue to fill the gap."

(Japanese original by Kenichi Mito, Shunsuke Kamiashi and Tamami Kawakami, City News Department)

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