June 2, 2017

"Karoshi" — working yourself to death.

In Japan (as reported at BBC).
"It's sad because young workers think they don't have any other choice," [a helpline worker] tells me. "If you don't quit you have to work 100 hours [of overtime a month]. If you quit you just can't live.... We had karoshi is the 1960s and 70s, the big difference is they had to work long hours but they were secured lifetime employment. That's not the case anymore."

24 comments:

Earnest Prole said...

An entire culture committing slow-motion harakiri.

rhhardin said...

Karoshi is singing with fish.

Robert Cook said...

This is where our corporate masters would like to take us...for the few who will be lucky enough to be employed at all once robots and outsourcing has laid waste to our already anemic employment stats.

campy said...

“Barack Obama will require you to work.”

Michelle Obama, 2/18/2008

traditionalguy said...

The Japs need some aircraft carriers again. Then they can die for the Emperor. That should help.

Meanwhile The Nimitz Memorial Society celebrates June the 4th.

William said...

Karoshi does not cast a shadow over my life. I occasionally --well, when I read about them here--worry about lightning strikes and terror attacks, but I'm absolutely certain that I will not fall victim to this grim phenomenon.

YoungHegelian said...

I think demographic trends are going to undo this nasty habit of Japanese corporate culture. Soon, there's going to be too much of a labor shortage to allow employers to treat employees this way.

In the past, as the article points out, a Japanese "salary man" worked like a slave, but got (almost) guaranteed lifetime employment. Now, the guarantee is gone, but corporations want the same level of devotion, but it can't continue. Because of Japanese culture, karoshi will continue longer than it would in e.g. the US. But, it's an "Emperor has no clothes" situation, & once the workers discover they have the upper hand, it'll not only fall apart, it'll take several major Japanese corporations, whose price structures are based on 50% of all hours being "free", down with them.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Dilbert covered this ages ago.

Darrell said...

There is no such thing as an iron rice bowl. Unless you visit Althouse's Amazon site.

Darrell said...

People were lucky if they could get Cookie to work for them.

tcrosse said...

Some people see Our Corporate Masters as the little guy in the top hat on the Monopoly board. Others see him as a guy in a t-shirt like Steve Jobs.

Angel-Dyne said...

tcrosse: Some people see Our Corporate Masters as the little guy in the top hat on the Monopoly board. Others see him as a guy in a t-shirt like Steve Jobs.

I understand Steve Jobs worship about as much as I understand knee-jerk hatred of corporations. Jobs was a "little guy in the top hat", and possessed the same range of virtues and vices as is usually found in the type.

It is possible to talk about worker abuse without assuming any complainers are profit-hatin' commies.

Mitch H. said...

Every few years you get one of these panic-mongering stories in the western press about karoshi. If you look at the numbers, it never amounts to more than bullshit. The article's example anecdote turns out to have died of a medical drug overdose, not exhaustion. And that guy's age - 27 is kinda suspicious. Especially for someone who was rarely seen by his relatives, and was always sleeping when they did.

Darrell said...

Those late night requirements are usually in a sex club entertaining customers and clients over non-stop drinks. Workers revolt if new management tries to put a stop to it.

MisterBuddwing said...

The article's example anecdote turns out to have died of a medical drug overdose, not exhaustion. And that guy's age - 27 is kinda suspicious. Especially for someone who was rarely seen by his relatives, and was always sleeping when they did.

Gee, I just can't imagine forced overwork as being a reason for any of the above.

Michael said...

Japanese workers have always been this way. They relish it actually, drama being a key ingredient of the Japanese salary man. Then they go get drunk before their two hour train ride home. I work harder than you, Hara-san. Impossible! I am getting by on two hours sleep each night. Ridiculous laziness, Hara, I manage on one hour plus a nap on the train.
The actual work being done in the offices is another matter.

MisterBuddwing said...

Ah, reminds me of the Four Yorkshireman sketch on "At Last the 1948 Show," which aired on ITV in 1967:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nL6isGPhzk

Luke Lea said...

We're talking 16 hour days indoors, roughly what I did first two years of college. I did get burned out though, I have to admit.

Ann Althouse said...

I've never worked hard. I'm afraid of hard work, and now I see why.

Ann Althouse said...

I've had to work around some people who humblebragged about being workaholics and tried to set up the workplace to force everyone to follow what they wanted to do anyway, out of some crazy drive. Toxic! Where's the humanity?

Alex said...

Ann - fortunate for you in academia hard work was never a requirement unlike the rest of us private sector morons.

Sarah from VA said...

Just saw a stat today that last year Japan's birthrate declined below 1 million for the first time since records started being kept. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-02/births-in-japan-fall-to-record-low-as-challenges-mount)This kind of work-to-death culture no doubt contributes to the problem. Who wants to have kids if you only see them when they're sleeping!

Of course, at the moment I would dearly like my own four children to be sleeping... but I've seen them all day and bedtime was almost an hour ago.

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Bad Lieutenant said...

Alex said...
Ann - fortunate for you in academia hard work was never a requirement unlike the rest of us private sector morons.
6/2/17, 7:36 PM


Alex,

That's because what she did, wasn't important enough to work hard at.