Is it true that Japanese work hard?


In this article, let’s talk a little bit about the workload in Japan, and we’ll understand why Japanese is reputed to work too hard, and show that Japan is not synonymous with work.

In Japan the worker is paid per hour. As Japanese labor law, the workload is 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, as well 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 standard hourly salary.

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

What’s the job like?

During the 8 hours of work, the worker has 1 hour apart, some companies usually divide this hour into several intervals during the day. The law requires a worker to have at least 1 day’s weekly rest or 4 monthly. If the employee wants to work on the day of rest, he receives an additional 35%.

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

Is it true that japanese work hard? - policia criancas japao 1

History and Culture

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

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

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

And we also have many Japanese who don’t like to work and look for other paths, some don‘t even leave the house. Japan’s average salary is usually not much different, so Japanese have more freedom of choice. So just because some Japanese work more than 12 hours a day, we can’t generalize.

Work for foreigners in Japan

Although Japan’s workload is only 8/9 hours, foreigners end up creating a bad job fame in Japan because of overtime. Unfortunately some companies force the worker to do overtime if he does not lose his job and is easily replaced by another.

In Japan, labor is lacking, and companies and contractors prefer to hire people who do the 2-job service to avoid shakai hoken tax and insurance spending for each employee. So many foreigners end up seeing no alternatives but working 12 hours a day, including Saturday.

In some cases, it is the foreigner himself who dives into work, aiming to raise money and return to his home country, ignoring fun, culture, language, tours, and ends up living a depressing life, and then puts the blame in Japan. The lack of fluency in the language, or the lack of opportunities, prevents him from knowing several other paths and satisfactory careers.


Japanese and World workload

Many think Japan is one of the countries that works the most in the world, they are wrong. A survey shows that Japan’s average workload is 1734 per year, which is approximately 34 hours per week.

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

Workload Ranking

PosCountry Annual hours Weekly 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 United States 1788 41.
13 Czech Republic 1772 40.
14 Slovakia 1770 40.
15 New Zealand 1760 37.
16 Italy 1752 36.
17Japan 1734 34.

Sometimes a country can have a shorter monthly workload, but has a shorter holiday 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 work-hardwork, it is not a country with high workload. There are millions of Japanese who work part-time, others who work as long as they want, as well as in any country.

So we conclude that working in Japan is like anywhere in the world. The different is the way the Japanese view the work routine. So before you believe in the generalization of the media or people, do a research and have a true knowledge about it.

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