Not so premium now, are you, Friday?

Things have a way of changing so gradually, it’s sometimes easy to forget how it used to be. Back in the day, we used to all think a guy singing about pineapples, pens, apples, and pineapples was just the greatest thing.

It was also a time when an economic policy by the late Shinzo Abe, both affectionately and unaffectionately known as “Abenomics,” was just full of ideas to stimulate some spending in Japan. One of these initiatives was Premium Friday, which started in 2017 and encouraged companies to allow staff to punch out a little earlier on the last Friday of every month, in the hopes they go see a movie, toss an axe around, or do anything that gets them spreading around some disposable income.

▼ Here it is explained by some singing puppets.

It might not sound like much, but it was a rather bold request since Japanese working culture is notoriously passive-aggressive about workers spending the maximum possible time at work, to the point that many don’t even use their allotted vacation days.

So, it probably wasn’t such a shock that Premium Friday didn’t take the country by storm. By 2020, the program was largely seen as a joke, and the pandemic pretty much squashed any remaining chance of it regaining any traction. However, it was never officially ended at any point.

On the contrary, the official website “” had been up and running until June 1st of this year, and an archive of it from last May shows an article from December 2021 explaining how a Premium Friday lifestyle of embracing drinking at home and leaving a little earlier when traveling can help to cope in a post-pandemic world. There was also an announcement for a Premium Friday clarinet concert in October 2022.

▼ There was even a cluster of Premium Friday promotions last May when the COVID-19 threat was downgraded. This news report covered them and optimistically ended by saying they “seem likely to grow in popularity.”

But with the shutdown of the website last June, it appears our main channel of Premium Friday information has been officially closed. Moreover, ownership of the website’s domain is set to expire on 13 August and as of this writing, the owners at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have yet to do anything about it.

There’s still time for a last-minute Hail Mary save, but the future for Premium Friday is not looking bright…if it ever did in the first place. Readers of the news were utterly devastated over the possible loss of Premium Friday in online comments. They just had a hard time expressing it.

“Is that still going on? I totally forgot about it.”
“It never really even started.”
“It’s hard to get into the ‘premium’ vibe with all the taxes and prices going up.”
“That was a pointless campaign.”
“I wonder how many millions of yen they spent on it.”
“Has the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ever accomplished anything?”
“A company near mine used to do it in the early days but stopped soon after. My company never did it.”
“Hang on just a minute now! What about Shining Monday?”

Shining Monday was the follow-up campaign to Premium Friday in which employees could go to work a little later in the morning on the Monday after the last Friday of every month. However, it was the creation of the minority Komeito Party and was never formally adopted by the ruling party.

And it looks as if Premium Friday is set to join Shining Monday on the island of misfit policies right alongside Cool Japan. Just remember to steer clear of anything that resembles a Premium Friday website from now on because it’s very likely that domain name will be scooped up by someone trying to sell crappy flashlights or bad investments.

Source: Internet Watch, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Way Back Machine/ Premium Friday
Top image: YouTube/静岡市広報課シティプロモーション係
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