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Japan’s “Karoshi” and Sweden’s 6-hour working day

Japan’s “Karoshi” and Sweden’s 6-hour working day


is a Japanese term, which can be translated as “overwork death”

There are many causes of karōshi but mostly it is caused by a heart attack or stroke due to stress or an unhealthy diet.

Then, there is also another type of negative consequence caused by Japan’s very obsolete work environment.

A number of Japanese workers are kept under a lot of pressure or extreme stress by their co-workers or companies (bosses).

As a result, they often get depressed and at worst, they sometimes commit suicide.


1. Chronic extreme stress

Especially common in traditional industries or large enterprises, employees in Japan are micro-managed and often not given any autonomy.

They are then required to sacrifice themselves (working overtime) to achieve their goals. But, why work overtime?

Well, this is because working overtime has always been regarded as proof of hard work rather than a lack of efficiently, in the past.

Hence, the best way of showing their dedication is still now working until the middle of the night and/or working during weekends (Of course, in many cases, they don’t get overtime pay).

There’re a huge number of not only traditional large enterprises but also small and medium-sized companies keeping this type of corporate culture.

Consequently, employees are often exposed to chronic extreme stress.


2. Getting depressed

Workers in Japan often gradually become used to the chronic stress and their unusual lifestyles (just working, working and working).

However, since they not only have no time to talk to their friends, parents, or anybody outside of work because they don’t want to trouble them, the matter tends to be kept secret from everyone.

Then, suddenly workers realize that they can’t wake up, move, go to work, etc. These are common symptoms of depression.


3. Committing suicide

Generally speaking, people who experience 1 & 2 usually have a strong sense of responsibility.

(Previously, I had some team members who got depressed in different companies)

They wouldn’t trouble their co-workers, bosses, customers, business associates, etc.

Therefore, to continue working is considered to be obligatory in their minds. Even so, the truth is that they don’t want to work and are constantly looking for an escape.

Often the idea they come up with is to commit suicide. Unfortunately, a number of people have already killed themselves this year. It seems that it will still take a long time to get rid of this irresponsible practice.


Sweden’s 6-hour working day

In contrast to Japan’s work environment, Sweden has recently introduced the 6-hour working day in order to increase productivity and make people’s lives better.

Sweden is well-known as a country where both men and women work equally while helping each other take care of their kids.

Therefore, maintaining work-life balance is one of the most important factors of their society.

Hence, in order for the country to ensure that people are able to have the energy to enjoy their private lives with their families, this concept has recently started being incorporated.

Perhaps, you have a question, “haven’t a lot of companies decreased their revenues and profits because of the new system?”

Let me introduce some cases.

To be continued …

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