"Even if working hours are short, we will pay more to the employee who produces a higher result. Long hours of work do not necessarily lead to higher performance," said Tadashi Yanai, chief executive of Fast Retailing.
Robot maker Fanuc, meanwhile, plans to woo recruits to its "inconvenient" headquarters at the foot of Mount Fuji by doubling the size of its gym, and building a new tennis court and a baseball field.
The corporate efforts to improve conditions chime with Mr Abe's campaign to shake up the country's labour market, seen as a key plank of his growth agenda. And civil servants will also get a break.
Read MoreWhy Japan's factories won't be going home
Employees in the health ministry will be banned from working after 10pm from October after an attempt to clear offices by switching off the lights failed. The government last week also submitted a bill making it mandatory for workers to take at least five days of paid holiday a year.
More controversial is an element of the bill requiring high-income employees in certain sectors — such as banks and brokerages — to be paid according to performance rather than the number of hours worked. Proponents say it would enhance productivity, but critics say it would increase overtime, as it need no longer be paid for.
More from The Financial Times
Japan cuts working hours
Japan Inc agrees to decade-high wage rise
Japan nears deflation as core CPI hits 0%
In addition, past attempts in Japan to improve the working environment for employees have largely failed. Japan still has instances of karoshi — death by overwork — and many employees still feel guilty leaving the office early.
Japanese employees only took up half their holiday entitlement last year, unlike the French and Germans who used their entire allowance, according to online travel agency Expedia. The only country that ranked lower than Japan is South Korea.
The new policies signal an erosion of long-held social norms — such as company loyalty — in Japan and changing attitudes toward work, especially among young employees.
With the notion of lifetime employment fading, one-in-three recent graduates from universities switches jobs within three years.
For Nanami Kobayashi, a 21-year-old university student searching for a job, "the most important thing is a comfortable working environment". That means an open culture where she can speak out, decent overtime pay and guarantees on the availability of paid holiday, she says.