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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:37 pm 
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Japanese are working themselves to death--literally

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Matsuri Takahashi was just 24 years old and a graduate of prestigious Tokyo University when she leaped to her death from her company dormitory on Christmas Day last year.

Tokyo Labor Bureau investigators ruled her suicide karoshi — death by overwork.

The Labor Bureau announced on Oct. 7 that Takahashi had been required to work 100 hours or more of overtime per month for months on end at the prominent Dentsu advertising agency. She often got as little as two hours of sleep a night, rarely had a day off and was ordered by supervisors to report fewer hours than she actually worked.

It’s an all too familiar story in Japan, where employees at nearly one in four companies are at risk of dying from working too many hours, according to a government report issued last month.

But Takahashi’s case has struck a nerve in Japan, and could help hasten reforms that experts say are long overdue.

Last Friday, Labor Ministry inspectors swooped down on Dentsu’s gleaming headquarters in central Tokyo and other sites around Japan, searching for evidence of systemic overtime abuse or other labor violations.

This was not the first such case at Dentsu. The 1991 suicide of a 24-year-old worker at company headquarters in Tokyo was among the first to focus national attention on the problem of karoshi.

“There is definitely going to be an impact from this case,” said Naohiro Yashiro, an economist and professor of global business at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo. “Dentsu is a very big company and if these practices can continue to happen there, it means that it’s necessary to put (stronger) regulations in place.”................


on the labor standards

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........Japan’s Labor Standards Law currently mandates a 40-hour workweek and a maximum of 15 hours of weekly overtime. But the law effectively allows unlimited overtime if there is a written agreement between a company and its labor union (unions in Japan generally are organized at individual companies, rather than across industries or trades).

According to a 2013 Labor Ministry report, companies with 300 or more employees on average allow up to 96.1 hours of overtime per month. That works out to roughly four and a half hours of overtime per day, every day........

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:21 am 
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Japan seems to have had trouble with this sort of thing for a long time. It seems to me that the traditional approach to employment in Japan is closer to what we'd consider indenture. The employer gets a right to all the employee's time. It at least used to be almost paternal.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:07 pm 
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There is a flip side to the Japanese approach to labor, though. The boss treats you and your family like family - so he will take care of your other family members, and is very reluctant to fire you; workers are far less disposable than they are here in the U.S., there is a greater emphasis on two way loyalty (comes out of Confucianism).

That said, yes, the Japanese work ethic leads many workers to voluntarily agree to unpaid overtime and long hours as a way to in turn show loyalty to the boss, but as the article notes, eventually that takes its psychological toll.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:08 am 
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Like I said, the relationship can border on paternal.

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