Is it true that Japanese people work hard?

In this article, we'll talk a little bit about the workload in Japan, and we'll understand why Japanese people are reputed to work too much, and show that Japan is not synonymous with work.

In Japan the worker is paid by the hour. According to Japanese labor law, the workload is 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, as in most countries. But employees can choose to do up to 45 overtime hours per month, where they receive 25% to 50% more than the standard hourly wage.


Because of this, many Japanese have acquired work addiction. More than 1 million Japanese workers have signed a term that allows them to work up to 100 extra hours per month. The government has tried several ways to end work addiction, such as limiting overtime, and even taking away extra pay.

How is work?

During the 8 hours of work, the worker has 1 hour break, some companies usually divide that hour into several breaks during the day. The law requires a worker to have at least 1 day off weekly or 4 days off. If the employee wants to work on the day of rest, he receives an additional 35%.


A large proportion of young people and adults work in part-time or non-fixed jobs. Others work on their own, create their own business and manage their time.

Is it true that Japanese people work hard?

History and Culture

There are several reasons that contribute to the Japanese addiction to work. After the Second World War, Japan experienced rapid economic growth, thanks to the dedication of the Japanese. Then it became customary for the Japanese to have a love for work.

In a traditional Japanese office, some employees follow a “etiquette” rule, where “you can't leave” before the boss, even if your job has already been completed.


One of the main factors for the Japanese to work too hard is money. Some end up striving for the good of the family, but ends up forgetting to spend time with them. Some usually postpone their holidays to work, others work so hard that they end up dying from overwork.

And we also have a lot of Japanese people who don't like to work and look for other ways, some don't even leave the house. Japan's average salary is not usually very different, so Japanese have more freedom of choice. So just because some Japanese people work more than 12 hours a day, we cannot generalize.

I work for foreigners in Japan

Although Japan's workload is only 8/9 hours, foreigners end up creating a bad reputation for work in Japan because of overtime. Unfortunately, some companies force the worker to work overtime, otherwise he loses his job and is easily replaced by another.


In Japan, labor is lacking, and companies and contractors prefer to hire people who do the service of 2, to avoid spending on taxes and insurance of the Shakai Hoken for each employee. Thus, many foreigners end up seeing no alternatives but to work 12 hours a day, including Saturday.

In some cases, it is the foreigner himself who plunges into work, with the goal of saving money and returning to his country of origin, ignoring fun, culture, language, tours, and ends up living a depressing life, and then blames Japan. The lack of fluency in the language, or the lack of opportunities, prevents him from knowing several other satisfying paths and careers.


Japan and World Hours

Many think that Japan is one of the hardest working countries in the world, they are wrong. Research has shown that Japan's average workload is 1734 per year, which is equivalent to approximately 34 hours per week.


The country that works the most is the Mexico, with an average annual workload of 2237 which is equivalent to 43 hours a week. In second place we have Greece, then Chile, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Israel, Brazil, Turkey, Ireland, United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, New Zealand, Italy and only then we have Japan, far from the top of the ranking countries with the highest annual workload.

Workload Ranking

Pos Parents  Annual hours  Week hours 
1  Mexico  2237  43.
2  Greece  2037  42.
3  Chile  2015  42.
4  Russia  1980  41.
5  Poland  1918  40.
6  Hungary  1883  39.
7  Estonia  1868  38.
8  Israel  1867  40.
9  Brazil  1841  40.
10  Turkey  1832  47.
11  Ireland  1815  35.
12  U.S  1788  41.
13  Czech republic  1772  40.
14  Slovakia  1770  40.
15  New Zealand  1760  37.
16  Italy  1752  36.
17 Japan  1734  34.

Sometimes a country may have a lower monthly workload, but it has a shorter vacation period. The sources of this ranking are from the OECD. Not all rankings are the same, in some I found Japan in 21st.

Although Japan has workaholics, it is not a country with a high workload. There are millions of Japanese who work part-time, others who work anytime they want, just like in any country.

So we concluded that work in Japan is like anywhere in the world. What is different is the way the Japanese view their work routine. So before you believe in the generalization of the media or people, do some research and have a true knowledge of the subject.

We recommend that you also read the article> Working in Japanese - Understand the differences and meanings.