January 26, 2009

Canon to employees: Make more babies

Japan's Canon Inc. says it wants its employees to do their bit to help the nation -- by going home early and making babies.

Twice a week, Canon lets its Japanese employees go home early to give them more family time and pump up the nation's low birthrate, which at 1.34 is well below the 2.0 needed to maintain the country's population, CNN reported Monday.

Experts say one reason Japan's population is shrinking, as well as aging faster than any country in the world, is its employees' notorious 12-hour workdays. Canon told CNN its twice-weekly 5:30 p.m. lights-out program is a simple step toward helping address the population problem.

Canon has a very strong birth planning program, company spokesman Hiroshi Yoshinaga told the broadcaster. Sending workers home early to be with their families is a part of it.