It turns out smoking breaks are a serious business. One 2014 report from the British Heart Foundation found that lost productivity from people taking four 10-minute smoking breaks a day cost UK businesses £8.4 billion annually - that's an average of £1,815 a year per employee who smokes during the working day.
So maybe the Japanese firm is onto something?
That said, missing out on the daily smoking break might mean you're missing out on vital office intel. Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel takes up cigarettes just to get ahead at work?...
As for the legal small print about breaks in the UK, if employees work longer than six hours a day, they're entitled to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break. That could be a tea break or lunch break, and whether or not it's paid depends on your contract.
On top of that, managers can say when you take rest breaks during work time as long as"the break is taken in one go somewhere in the middle of the day (not at the beginning or end). Workers are allowed to spend it away from their desk or workstation (i.e. away from where they actually work)."
But what about the odd smoking break?
The government's official rulings on rest breaks is pretty clear... "Unless a worker’s employment contract says so, they don’t have the right to take smoking breaks [or] get paid for rest breaks."