Japan goes part-time

Apr 26 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Japan, what's going on? According to the Japan Times, the Japanese are slowly working themselves to death – actually, quickly may be the better adjective! Strangely enough, Japan has even adopted the German word "arbeit" (work) in their vocabulary. Quite eerie, frankly, if one is a student of history.

Surprisingly, part-time work has become quite popular in Japan, at least among management. Part-timers may work fewer hours on paper, thereby cutting benefits and salary, but management still demands the same output as full-time employees.

So, how common is this? Studies show that up to 1/3rd of the Japanese work force is non-regular employees (read: part time). Known for their work ethic, it's not surprising that Japan has the most overtime worked of any industrialized nation. If you're counting at home, the article suggests 1975 hours on the job in Japan, compared to 1929 in the United States and somewhere in the 1500s in Germany.

Not surprisingly, there's been an increase in the number of work-related suicides. What's the government's solution? They've decided to pay time and a half for overtime – once you've reached 80 hours of overtime for the month.

I can only assume that the fear of unemployment is the only rational factor that can push a human being to work so much for so little in return. However, the expectation that one has to work 80 extra hours per month – or, according to the Japan Times, 3 1/2 extra hours per day – before you start to see a little extra cash is frankly inexcusable.