Tokyo: Japan has set an ambitious goal of doubling the number of “teleworkers” clocking on from home within three years, as part of its efforts to cope with an ageing society.
With a widespread broadband Internet access, this move will encourage more women to continue working after giving birth and help them keep their workforce motivated.
The government aims to raise the number of Japanese teleworkers to about 20% of the entire workforce by 2010 from the current level of about 10% or 6.7 million people, officials said.
“The government should make efforts to increase the number of teleworkers to above 10 million within three years,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The plan aims to make it easier for people with children or disabilities to work and also improve the balance between people’s work and personal lives, a cabinet office official added.
“By utilising IT technology, we expect that female workers in particular -- who in the past have left their jobs to give birth to children and raise them -- will be able to keep working,” the official said.
Japan’s population is expected to shrink by 30% in the next 40 years unless the country reverses its dwindling birth rate, according to a government report released in December.
Many young Japanese are putting off starting families, believing they are a burden to their lifestyle and careers.
Some Japanese companies, faced with growing shortage of skilled labour, have already been turning to the Internet to allow people to work from home.
High-tech giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. recently announced a telework programme that will allow nearly half of its employees in Japan - nearly 30,000 people to work from home once or twice a week.