"Are you working too hard?"

Are you working too hard?

If you are working in a Japanese company, the likely answer is yes. As reported in the Economist recently, official figures say that the Japanese work slightly less than Americans who work on average 1,800 hours a year. The average Japanese person is thought to work 1,780 hours a year. However, the Economist say that the actual amount is 60 hours a week, which amounts to 3,120 hours a year if you count the “free overtime.” This figure is nearly double the official hours of the Americans and much more than the British, who are thought to work the hardest in Europe with 40 hour weeks (2,080 hours a year) and there have been trade union uprisings about cutting back the hours, yet this number is still lower in Japan.

Toyota, which is on its way to over-taking GM as the world’s largest manufacturer, has seen an employee die as a result of over-working (known in Japanese as karoshi). Japan made karoshi a legally recognized cause of death in the 1980s and the number of karoshi are soaring. From 4% in 1988 to 40% in 2005, the Japanese are certainly working themselves to death.

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