Streams

Working to Death

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daniel Rosenblum, Vice President and Director of Corporate & Policy Programs at the Japan Society, discusses karoshi and the Japanese work ethic.

Guests:

Daniel Rosenblum

Comments [6]

Sarah from Brooklyn, NY

I wonder if this "work to death syndrome" begins when children are in school. As a graduate student of education I remember reading about the very high academic pressure in Japan, particularly since students who don't pass certain exams are automatically barred from entering university. I think something similar occurs in China and/or Korea.
We constantly hear that our kids our not up to par in their academic achievement compared to other developed countries. If this is the cost of such high pressure academics and testing, is it worth it? What are we losing
"Test scores and hours at the desk does not a healthy and well rounded person make." I worry that we are on the same path.

Jul. 23 2008 08:55 PM
hjs from 11211

seems like most people easily become drones

Jul. 23 2008 01:28 PM
eva

Elizabeth,
And not so different from the Japanese soldiers whose humanity was taken away from them when they were forced to abide the murderous impulses of Hirohito during the Rape of Nanjing. Soldiers were instructed that their lives were worth nothing compared to the Emporer - so imagine what level the peasant Chinese women occupied? The Japanese military really brainwashed those guys - to a level we can't even imagine.
Group think is not just harmful to the individual - it can result in genocidal actions. Weird, huh?

Jul. 23 2008 01:17 PM
Elizabeth from NJ

The term "karoshi" (pronounced kah-ROW-shi) is derived from 3 Chinese characters, the first for "over" the second for "work/labor" and the third for death. I worked for a Japanese company in Kyoto for 3 years and regularly worked until 9-10pm and on weekends. Now I work for the same company as a freelancer and am still expected to work at all hours of the day and night. It is about loyalty. The company is expected to come first. Managers often stay late to pressure their subordinates to stay late even if there is no work to do. There is tremendous social pressure in this, as in most other areas of Japanese life, to appear to be loyal to one's group, even to the point of death. Not so different from the kamikaze pilots of WWII.

Jul. 23 2008 12:14 PM
hjs from 11211

TeachTruth
what kind of party was it? i mean if he/she was drinking can the job be blamed?

what are u teaching? can anything be found on the net for you?

Jul. 23 2008 12:07 PM
TeachTruth from Queens

As a NYC teacher, I can tell you that the working to death syndrome is alive in the Department of Education. My school doesn't provide me with textbooks. I have to research everything and produce handouts for four different grades a day, six grades a week. The despondency that Rosenblum mentioned is very familiar.

I know of a number of people that have had heart attacks or strokes on the job. One teacher had a fatal heart attack at the end-of-year party after work.

Jul. 23 2008 12:02 PM

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