Karoshi: Death by Overwork in Japan

Karoshi (過労死) or death from overwork is not uncommon in Japan. This happens due to your work culture and several other factors. We've written several articles talking about working in Japan, but today we're going to talk specifically about karoshi.

The main medical causes of death by karoshi are heart attack and stroke due to stress. There is also malnutrition and suicide where work is one of the main causes. Japan is the only country with a separate category for reporting overworked deaths. Karoshi has been part of the public consciousness since 1980.

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What causes Karoshi?

The main factor that causes death at work is overtime. Despite the government or some companies setting a limit on overtime, many end up exceeding it even if they are not being paid. Some people in the corporate world end up working even when they get home for the simple pleasure of getting the job done right away.

Karoshi - death from overwork in japan

The overwork culture emerged after the second world war where people were encouraged to work 12 hours a day up to 7 days a week to boost the country's economy. Nowadays this is not necessary, but the 25% of overtime ends up catching the attention of many people.

It's not just stress or health problems that will cause death from work, it's suicide. Unemployment is responsible for 57% of all suicides, with work-related stress (such as extended overtime), work fatigue, and work-related depression being the other major factors leading to suicide. It is worth remembering that employment is not lacking in Japan, but simply the loss of a position or job makes a Japanese person want to give up on life.

There are several cultural factors that make people work more than they should. Things like pride, honor, shame, and the desire to do your best end up making Japanese people work harder than they should without even realizing it. Japanese people who work more than 80 hours of overtime per month are subject to karoshi. Even those Japanese who don't work too hard end up neglecting their health. They just leave work and go out for drinks or spend the night at the computer, leaving no time to rest.

Karoshi - death from overwork in japan

When will Karoshi end?

It's sad to say but karoshi not will disappear soon. The government has imposed fines and set limits, but unfortunately the problem is the desire of the Japanese to work. Some companies have tried to combat the phenomenon with various programs, but the change has to start at the cultural level, which can take decades. As long as the Japanese continue working overtime excessively of their own volition, Karoshi cases will keep happening. Is that you? What do you think about this matter? We await your comment.

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