Did you know that in Japan, it’s completely normal to work 60 hours a week? Arguably, this culture of pretty much 0 work-life balance has been around for centuries, but it seems to have become more accentuated since the end of WW2. During that time, then-Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida encouraged Japan’s businesses to reward employees working long hours in order to reboot the nation’s economy after the war. Decades later, this culture of hard work and stoicism still stands.
Today, the work ethic of the average salaryman is unhealthy and dangerous. Japan is currently facing an increase of heart failures and suicide, which has led to a number of governmental efforts to encourage people to take time off.
Despite the suggestion of taking time off, you don’t have to look far to see the effects of overwork on Japan’s corporate employees. In fact, as photographer Pawel Jaszczuk has found, it’s just a matter of walking the streets after hours.
Take a look at some of the pictures he captured:
It can be hard to look at, and even harder to comprehend just how long the days are for employees to be able to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere — especially in public.
The American 40-hour work weeks definitely aren’t that bad in comparison to 60, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be overworking themselves to the point of exhaustion.
Spain recently announced they will begin a trial of a 32-hour work week. Personally, I’m keeping tabs on how that turns out because I would NOT mind switching to that set up!
What are your thoughts? Are Americans heading toward the 60-hour stress of Japan’s work week? Should we be more like Spain?