Japanese people are known to be hard-working citizens—working long hours with little to no sleep, and the term “work-life balance” doesn’t exist in their dictionary.
But what does exist is the Japanese term “karoshi” aka death from overwork.
We might exaggerate how we are tired from work, but in The Land of the Rising Sun, it is a cold hard reality.
This grim phenomenon was prevalent in the late 1980s; blue-collar employees will literally work themselves to death.
This slowly trickled down to white-collar jobs as well.
Now, fast forward to 2017, when work can be brought home to do…which either ease people’s workload or escalate it.
According to The New York Times, a 31-year-old journalist for Japan’s state-run broadcaster (NHK), Miwa Sado, died of congestive heart failure.
Prior to her unfortunate death, she spent the summer of 2013 covering two local elections in Tokyo, clocking 159 hours of overtime over the course of a month.
She worked until midnight almost every day and rarely took weekends off.
Her colleagues also mentioned that she was in a state of accumulated fatigue and chronic sleep deprivation.
Here, we do the maths for you: if there are 20 working days in a month, the total working hours, based on a 44-hour workweek, is 176 hours.
So you can imagine how many extra hours she has clocked in. It’s almost double of what both you and I are doing now.
So you might be wondering, why is her death only publicised now?
The broadcaster delayed disclosing the details about Sado’s death out of respect to the family.
They also aim to reform the work structure so history won’t repeat itself.
Sado’s parents were not having any of it and they also questioned NHK for not letting her death known throughout the company.
I guess they wanted to her passing on the down low.
The biggest irony—some of the journalists covered cases of karoshi but they didn’t know their own colleague had died from it.
The government has definitely tried (or is still trying) to tackle the issue.
A guideline was implemented to ensure whether employees are overworked and in February, the Government also introduced “Premium Friday” where companies are encouraged to allow employees to leave the office at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of the month (by the way, are you reading this, Boss?).
While this first-world problem wouldn’t be solved overnight, I am hopeful that things might start looking up in years to come.
Singaporeans are definitely no strangers to working overtime but I am sure that if anyone of us was in Sado’s shoes, we would write into Stomp and complain before we end up dead. #Sorrynotsorry
Moral of the story? Death from overwork is real. If it’s 10:00 p.m. now and you’re reading this in your office, you’d better reevaluate your priorities.
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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com
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