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14 Mar 2002
Scotsman.com reported on karoshi, death from overwork.

Japan wakes up to fatal work ethic

Newly released karoshi figures from Japan窶冱 Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry, covering 2002, show a record 317 deaths that were directly attributable to long hours in the office. The previous record was 143, set just the previous year. But experts believe the figures are a huge underestimate of the actual number killed by overwork. They believe the number of white collar workers putting their lives at risk could be as high as one million. The Japanese government first recognised the link between overwork and death in 1987, and a recent survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation estimates that one in 30 male workers in their early 30s put in more than 3,000 hours a year; equivalent to 58 hours a week, a level already defined by the government as being a threat to health. [...]

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Long hours is not all, it highly depends on how hard thy work during that time. I know lots of people who work 12h a day (+ at home the weekend), but that doesn't seem so intense. I would do the same work in half the time, but get a headache from overconcentration. Living in Japan has allowed me to take a new stance toward time spent working. As long as you are not paid for your results, and your boss think you are lazy if you go back home at the normal time, there is no need to try hard to finish early. I think that's a very significant difference between Japan and a lot of Western countries' approach of work. Consequently linking work time to karoshi does not seem appropriate to me in Japan's case. Assail workers with unmeetable deadlines or threatening them to lose their job if they don't achieve some results is much harder to cope with than fake working by actually browsing the Internet half the 12h of day work.
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