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Why does Japan have such long working hours?

1. Introduction

Japan is known for having some of the longest working hours in the world. According to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Japanese workers put in an average of 2,123 hours per year, which is about 400 hours more than the OECD average. This begs the question: why does Japan have such long working hours?

In this article, we will explore the history of Japan’s working hours, its role in the government, cultural norms and how it has impacted working hours in Japan, as well as its benefits and challenges. We will also discuss potential solutions to reduce working hours in Japan.

Japanese Snack Box

2. History of Japan’s Working Hours

The history of long working hours in Japan can be traced back to the late 19th century when industrialization began to take over many aspects of Japanese society. During this time, Japanese companies adopted a “work hard/play hard” attitude where employees were expected to put in long hours at work while still maintaining their social lives outside of work.

This attitude continued into the 20th century with many companies implementing a “lifetime employment” system where employees would stay with one company until retirement. This system was seen as beneficial for both employers and employees as it allowed employers to maintain a loyal workforce while employees had job security and stability.

3. The Role of the Japanese Government

The Japanese government has also played a role in encouraging long working hours by enacting various labor laws that favor employers over employees. These laws include allowing companies to set their own overtime limits without consulting with their workers or providing any additional compensation for overtime work. Additionally, labor unions are not allowed to negotiate on behalf of workers and there are few regulations on working conditions or wages for part-time or temporary workers. These laws have led to an environment where employers can easily demand more from their workers without offering any additional compensation or benefits in return.

4. The Impact of Cultural Norms on Working Hours

In addition to government policies, cultural norms have also contributed to long working hours in Japan. In particular, there is an emphasis on loyalty and dedication towards one’s employer which encourages people to stay late at work even if they don’t need to do so anymore. Additionally, there is a strong belief that hard work will be rewarded which further encourages people to put in extra effort at work even if it means sacrificing personal time or leisure activities outside of work.

5 The Benefits of Long Working Hours

Despite these challenges associated with long working hours, there are also some benefits that come along with them as well.For example, longer working hours can lead to increased productivity since workers are able to focus more intensely on tasks without being distracted by other activities outside of work.Additionally,longer working hours can lead to greater job satisfaction since workers feel like they are contributing more towards achieving organizational goals.Finally,longer working hours can help build stronger relationships between co-workers since they spend more time together during the day.

6 The Challenges and Disadvantages of Long Working Hours in Japan

Although there are some potential benefits associated with long working hours,there are also several challenges and disadvantages that come along with them as well.For example,long working hours can lead to increased levels of stress among employees which could lead them feeling fatigued or burnt out.Additionally,extended periods away from home could lead people feeling isolated from family members or friends which could negatively affect mental health.Finally,longworkinghours could leadto decreased motivation amongemployeesas they become less engagedin their jobs due toprolongedperiodsof monotonouswork.

7 Solutions To Reduce Working Hours In Japan

Fortunately,thereare several solutionsthatcan be implementedto reduceworkinghoursinJapanand makeitmore manageableforbothemployersandemployeesalike.Forexample,thegovernmentcouldimplementpoliciesthatencourageworkerstotakeregularbreaksduringtheirdayand limitovertimehoursforcertainpositionsorindustries.Additionally,companiesshouldfocusoninvestinginworkplaceculturesthatincentivizeworkersratherthanpunishthemforlongworkinghours.Finally,employersshouldprovideadequatecompensationfortheirworkersincludingpaidvacationdaysorflexibleworkingarrangementssuchasallowingemployeestoworkfromhomeonoccasiontoreduceovertimehoursandstresslevelsamongtheirstaff.

8 Conclusion


In conclusion,longworkinghourshavebecomeanintegralpartofJapanese culturewhichhasbothbenefitsandchallengesassociatedwithit.Toreduceworkinghourswithoutjeopardizingproductivityorjob satisfactionamongemployees,itiscriticalthatboththegovernmentandcompaniesinvestinpoliciesandsolutionsdesignedtorewardworkerseffortswhilelimitingovertimehoursatthesametime.

9 References / Further Reading

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2018). Labour force statistics: Average annual numberofactualhoursworkedperworker(Hours).Retrievedfrom
Japan Times.(2020).LongWorkingHoursinJapan:HistoryandCulturalNormsBehindtheTrendsRetrievedfromhttps://www

Do Japanese really work long hours?

The average annual working hours in Japan decreased from 1884 hours in 1995 to 1714 hours in 2009. In 2019 Japanese employees worked an average of 1644 hours fewer hours than Spanish Canadians and Italians. Compared to the 2019 US average. Worker he worked 1779 hours.

What is Japanese overwork syndrome?

Japanese people use the term Garoshi (過労死) to describe a phenomenon that represents Japanese workplace culture. Means death from overwork. After the oil crisis in 1973 labor reforms in Korea created a working environment in which working more than 70 hours per week was considered normal and honorable.

Is it cheaper to live in America or Japan?

In the US, the average price per square foot to buy a residence in the city center is around $335, whereas in Japan a comparable figure is $760. This is an approximate 57 percent increase. However, on the whole, house prices are generally lower in Japan than the US, especially since the Covid pandemic.

Why is it hard to get fired in Japan?

How common are shootings in Japan? In Japan it is very difficult and risky for companies to fire employees. Unlike the United States Japan is not a discretionary employment jurisdiction. This means that it is very difficult to terminate an employment relationship without cause in Japan.

Is Japan a workaholic country?

Its no secret that Japan has a lot of hardworking people. The work-life balance in Japan is generally not considered to be great. Traditional Japanese workplace culture emphasizes extreme commitment to work.

What is the hardest working country in the world?

What Country Has the Hardest Workers? Mexico has the worlds hardest workers, clocking in at 2,127.8 hours per year on average. That means that the average Mexican worker works for 40.9 hours a week, about 5.7 percent more than the average worker in the United States.

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