Work To Death

Tilting Pagoda

Part of the Human Comedy series
Read Suicide Train
Read Forest of Death

Working hard is usually a good thing, but it isn't so for the Japanese. Japan is the most overworked country in the world. Some Japanese workers work as much as 80 hours a week. Yep, you are not hearing it wrong. If the math is right, that's 16 hours per work day. They have merely eight hours a day to sleep and to try to live their lives. Although there are overtime laws in Japan, many employees "volunteer" to stay in the office past their work hours. (Statistics don't account for this unfortunately). If you didn't, you may be tagged as an unproductive or lazy worker and that is not a good thing for your career. Moreover, very few people take time off, vacation or holiday. Hard work and sacrifice are the mottos.

Consequently, Japanese deaths at work have been increasing at an alarming rate. Some people commit suicide due to stress; others die on their work desks due to extreme fatigue or heart issues. I have a friend in Japan who recently passed away because of overwork. He left behind a wife and a young infant. Unfortunately, this is all too typical in the Land of the Rising Sun. Since other Asian countries have been looking at Japan as a model for social and economic development, we could see this problem spreading to all of Asia and that would be a terrible thing.