Showing posts with label capitalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label capitalism. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A recipe for disaster: Japanese culture + unrestrained capitalism

Headline from USA Today: Japanese are working themselves to death--literally

The article above focuses on the recent death of 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi, who committed suicide after months of being forced to work ungodly hours at the major Japanese advertising firm Dentsu. This particular tragedy made the headlines perhaps only because the Japanese Department of Labor officially acknowledged that Takahashi's suicide indeed resulted from overwork, but an even greater tragedy is that in Japan, similar deaths routinely occur and then quietly get swept under the rug.

As I wrote in You Can't Spell Tokyo Without K.O.:
It’s difficult to exaggerate the extreme degree to which the Japanese are overworked. In English-speaking cultures, the phrase “worked to death” often occurs in the figurative sense of being extremely busy, but in Japan the equivalent phrase 過労死 (karōshi) only occurs in the literal sense, because it has become a nationwide crisis: every year a considerable number of Japanese employees actually die from overwork. Most instances of karōshi result not from any sort of back-breaking physical labor in hazardous working conditions like those of a coal miner, but from a gradual accumulation of anxiety and psychological stress that eats away at the employee day by day until culminating in death, often from heart attack or stroke, often before the age of forty. The unbearable stress of work also contributes to Japan’s epidemic of suicide, which, as of this writing, is the country’s leading cause of death in young adults.
Several factors contribute to Japan's epidemic of overwork. One major factor is summed up in the Japanese idiom 出る杭は打たれる (deru kui wa utareru), which translates to “the stake [or nail] that sticks out gets hammered down” — a stern reminder to lay low and avoid standing out.