Workers assemble LCD 4K televisions on an assembly line at a plant for Japan’s electronics giant Panasonic in Utsunomiya, 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, September 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
A new study by the Japanese government shows that more than one in five companies in the country have employees who face the risk of death from working long hours in their workplaces.
The survey, published by the cabinet of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday, revealed that 22.7 percent of companies, polled between December 2015 and January 2016, said some of their staff had recorded more than 80 hours of working overtime per month.
The report added that some 21.3 percent of the employees in Japan had worked 49 hours or more each week on average, logging more hours than their foreign counterparts in the United States and Britain, with 16.4 percent and 12.5 percent respectively.
This is while hundreds of work-related deaths from strokes, heart attacks and suicide are reported in Japan annually, along with a range of serious health problems.
According to an investigative report cited by The Japan Times, approximately 2,159 people took their own lives in 2015 due to high levels of stress and problems related to their work.
Since the 1980s, the problem of death from overwork, known in the Japanese culture as “karoshi,” as well as the deaths and medical, psychological, and emotional disorders resulting from it, has been acknowledged in the country, with employees pushing officials to call on companies to improve working conditions.
The Japanese government is now aiming to decrease the percentage of employees working more than 60 hours each week to five percent of the total workforce.