A Young Woman Has Died From Working Too Much in Japan

Yes, you read that right

A Young Woman Has Died From Working Too Much in Japan

by Eleanor Lee |

It’s been revealed that a woman in Japan died in 2013 due from overwork. Miwa Sado, a political journalist for Japan’s state broadcaster, suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 31. She had logged 159 hours of overtime and taken only 2 days off in the month leading up to her death.

Issues with Japan’s work culture have been apparent for some time now, and statistics reveal that one-fifth of Japanese workers are at risk of *karoshi, *the Japanese term that means death by overwork.

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Miwa Sado’s employers kept the news of her death quiet until last week ‘but her family insisted that it be made public to prevent similar tragedies in the future.’ The journalist had been covering a local election and died just three days after.

A similar ruling was made over the death of Matsuri Takahashi, an employee of advertisement company Dentsu. The 24-year-old took her own life due to stress caused by overwork, as she was working more than 100 hours of overtime each month. Her mother said that ‘companies put business performance before the welfare of their employees.

This scary overwork culture is present in the majority of Japanese companies, with a minimum working day consisting of 12 hours. Japan has been working their people to death for many years, and still not much is being done about it. ‘Karoshi is more than just a phrase; according to the country's Manpower Ministry, there have been up to 200 cases of real karoshi that involved suicide, heart attack, and stroke. Many consider the actual number to be much higher.’

Although overtime is a circumstantial favour in the U.K., it’s much different in Japan as employees are expected to put in hours of work outside their designated shift patterns. Japanese authorities have faced huge amounts of pressure to revise the absurd overwork culture since it was revealed that 2000 people committed suicide in one year from overwork. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was seeking ‘to impose a cap on the number of overtime hours people can work’.

As Japanese workers look to the future they can only hope that authorities are able to impose such limits and rules. Companies are causing huge numbers of unnecessary deaths simply because they don't acknowledge the need for a work-life balance.

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Follow Eleanor on Twitter @eleanorlee_

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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