Japan is notorious for long working hours, to the point of working to death (karoshi) and job-related suicides in the worst, referred to as “black companies.” However, almost half of 1,882 recently surveyed newly employed people responded that they would leave the office when their work was done even if their superiors or colleagues were working overtime. This, of course, comes at a risk of not being promoted as fast or as far as those who are more dedicated.
Having worked with Japan for 45 years, this sounds like an old refrain. “More Japanese Workers Demanding Shorter Hours and Less Hectic Work” read a New York Times Headline March 3, 1992. In the last 25 years, we have heard this assertion on a regular basis, only to find more people working themselves to death.
This time, however, the younger generation may actually stick by it. Why? Because many Japanese are not marrying, or are marrying but not having kids. And this creates another problem: The birthrate is declining at an alarming speed (currently -.2%) creating a “silver society” aging Japanese with fewer younger people to contribute to their care. The number of Japanese over 65 (something like 26%) far outweighs those 15 or under (something like 13%).
For low-risk Japanese, stability has been a prime goal in life. But now, 2 ½ decades in economic doldrums, stability is elusive for many, making having a family less desirable. Ones who do have a family are more likely to work late to hang on to that job – just the ones that should be going home to see their kids…
Ironic isn’t it!