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Labor bureau rules that Toyota engineer died from overwork

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death by zangyou... sad.

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The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress.

If a death is judged karoshi, surviving family members may receive compensation of around $20,000 a year from the government and sometimes up to $1m from the company in damages. For deaths not designated karoshi the family gets next to nothing.

What an arrogant company Toyota is. Yet another karoshi death. Sales are down about 3.0% so we can expect even more pressure on their ready-to-flip workers.

I teach the wife of a Toyota factory worker. She's always talking about what a heavy drinker her overworked spouse is. He seems to be downing a six-pack or more every night/morning after work.

I heard that even English teachers at Japanese corporations are pressured into attending drinking parties almost every night.

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Said that I know guys that I worked with in the west that went to the toilet and started spurting blood from different orifices due to stress from over-working.

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In a statement, Toyota offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.

Notice they don't say they will look into reducing work hours or improving work conditions.

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Notice they don't say they will look into reducing work hours or improving work conditions.

That's how they avoid the shakai hoken, using contractors. If you work for a sub-contractor for Toyota, you work for Toyota. Don't be naive.

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helloklitty.

Will you apply the same standards to your countries companies?

Hold Boeing, IBM, Microsoft, etc responsible for contractors working their people to death? How about the help-desks in India, etc?

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I worked for a sub-contractor/partner of IBM in Japan. And we got screwed majorly and dropped like a hot potato when the brown stuff hit the spinning thingy.

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Toyota offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.

What a load of cod's wallop! How about a 38 hour working week with 4 weeks a year paid vacation? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

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i dont think working culture here is going to change anytime soon, as so the “karoshi” rate will keep rising.

people here will always complain about how hard/long hours they are working everyday, but if some of there co-worker can get job done early and leave early, the same people who just complain on how long hour they are working will will turn around and make a bitter complain on those leave early!!!

i think it is in their culture to view life as something pain, dark, suffer. don't try to be or make your life so happy, people here hate it. work till dead, that is the ultimate j-robot's life style!

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helloklitty. Will you apply the same standards to your countries companies? Hold Boeing, IBM, Microsoft, etc responsible for contractors working their people to death? How about the help-desks in India, etc?

No.

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The overtime is all about save of face. Getting the work done and... not looking lazy! "Oh I stayed back longer than you!" "No u didn't!" "Yes I did so there!" The Japanese work for the good of the company and for their own social status. They will not even use all of their holiday hours when I would use them as soon as im entitiled to them. This robotic acting dates back to samurai days... basicly slaves in the rice fields... working for their masters. What are we seeing today? Slaves in the rice fields... so to speak... ok factories... working for the company, shareholders, and whoever else has a piece of the pie. Also working these longer hours keeps them financialy sound so that they can buy their familys things such as cars, washing machines and other appliances, clothing, video games in order to keep up with the Jones's... I mean Sato's. The Japanese want to feel apart of groups... follow the leader and do as the rest do... not to be looked down upon... See in Japan there is a huge amount of competition in schooling and the workforce. If u won't work the hours and Kenta will he will take ur job. This guy had a senior job and I bet there were a lot of guys looking at it. This is one reason why the suicide rate is so damn high... Ahhh the crazyness of Japan!

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Overwork was not the sole reason that killed him: Poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive drinking and smoking were probably contributing factors. I have consistantly worked 40+ hours of OT at my company, traveled overseas on average 8 times a year for the last 18 years with no discernable side effects AND I'm 12 years older than the guy in this article. I firmly believe anyone who watches their diet, drinks moderately, doesn't smoke and gets regular exercise can easily handle 40 to 50 hours of OT a month...

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Japanese workers basically have no holiday time or if they do they have to take it in golden week and summer holidays.

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Doesn't working all of those long, ovetime hours help contirbute to the population problem in Japan? Not enough free time to have children. I have some female friends in Japan who say they aren't planning on having children because they don't think they'd have time to raise them considering their work hours. That's kind of scary.

What happened to this worker was terrible. I hope that something can be done about these harsh employment practices.

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I firmly believe anyone who watches their diet, drinks moderately, doesn't smoke and gets regular exercise can easily handle 40 to 50 hours of OT a month...

Good for you and your stirling constitution!

However, how does one manage these types of body health maintenance when you're doing 80 hours of OT a month as this person was? How does one avoid the pressures of drinking and smoke-filled rooms when you're pressured to attend enkais? When your job occupies so much of a worker's life, your ability to care for yourself diminishes rapidly.

Good for you if you get around these pressures, but applying your situation to another's is not always a reliable measuring stick.

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Overwork was not the sole reason that killed him: Poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive drinking and smoking were probably contributing factors.<

Stop assuming these things as the article says he was the lead engineer of Toyota's new project.

IMHO I think the Japanese work their people too hard therefore causing deaths and suicides etc. Their market is too competitive. Do you see workers dying in the US ? NO

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Doesn't working all of those long, ovetime hours help contirbute to the population problem in Japan? Not enough free time to have children.

Not sure sure. I haven't worked overtime for years and the missus still won't give me the time of day. I presume it is the same with most Japanese men.

Besides, if they did get off work early, I doubt they would go straight home. Getting off work early just means more time to drink afterwards.

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In a statement, Toyota offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.

In other words, it will do nothing.

While Toyota has Go-home-at-5:00-Wednesdays, its subsidiaries don't. I regularly taught gentlemen who worked 8 to 3:00am. They'd (sometimes) go home, eat a cold meal and then turn around for another marathon shift.

Companies don't care at all. If a worker dies just replace him and deny the widow any benefits. I've seen that happen time and time again.

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Doesn't working all of those long, ovetime hours help contirbute to the population problem in Japan?

I'm sure it's a large part of the problem, though I think women not having the ability to return to their former positions post-pregnancy and men not getting enough time off is the larger problem.

as so the “karoshi” rate will keep rising.

As for the number of deaths from overwork, I don't see them increasing, maybe remaining constant, but i doubt we'll see a rise.

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I am with DenshaDeGo.

Remember working as a contract worker for Hitachi in their firmware division. You know the guys that program the computer chips for earthquake sensors, etc.

Most of the bosses shaved AFTER coming to the office, etc wednesday was a NON-overtime day NONE left earlier than on other days.

In short the guys left work late came in and did their morning toilet at the office.

Interestingly enough, most of the contractors were chinese, etc earning about 200.000/month.

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RepublicofTexas.

How many women in western companies can come back to their own jobs after maternity leave? Few in my experience, yeah they are guaranteed a job but it don't mean the same one.

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It will never change in this country as long as people are willing to go along with it. I sure as hell wouldn't work all the time like these salarymen.

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Overwork was not the sole reason that killed him: Poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive drinking and smoking were probably contributing factors.

absolutely brother, the stress of his job was the straw, but the camel was probably a dodgy camel to start with.

80 hours a month O/T thats only 20 hours a week, not "that" extreme. 160 hours of O/T a month is getting extreme.

I once worked 70-80 hours a week (6 days) thats 30-40 hours of O/T per week for 2 months straight doing manual outdoor work, didn't kill me, in fact it lined my pockets extremely well as I got paid for every second I worked, I had some monster pay checks - 40 hours at regular rate and 40 hours at time and a half. The problem in Japan is that these workers are not getting sweet O/T rates for all the extra work, they are mostly taking one for the team and that is not on. If all workers in Japan doing O/T got paid fully for their efforts or were compensated accordingly if they were on set salaries then I guarantee few would be complaining about it and bosses would be at the door booting employees out at the end of the day to avoid paying overtime. Also slow inefficient work practices are causing people to work long hours, ask any foreigner stuck in the frustrating hamster wheel in a Japanese office - work smarter not longer.

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thepro - amen, brother (sister?). It's the しょうがない attitude of so many Japanese that bothers me. Too many of them with go along with anything. Oh, I'm expected to work 20 hour days? Shouganai na... I'm not getting paid extra for it? Well, what can you do - shouganai... My boss wants me to repeatedly sodomize myself with this here splintery broomstick? Shou [ouch!] ga [owwww!] nai [ugh!] na...

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Members or our team in Asia regularly work 60-80 hours of OT a month. I've done so a few months as well. And you can feel the damage to your health.

Japan, let's solve sevearal problems with one solution. Ok?

Solution: Improve and enforce labor standards and incentivise companies to close their doors and turn off the lights at an earlier hour each day.

Rules:

Standard working hours should be enforces at 8hrs per day. Any time worked over and beyond must be paid as overtime at a 1.5 x rate. Enforce this.

Workers must have the defendable right to refuse overtime over 10hrs per week. Companies should pay a bonus rate for any hours over 10hrs per week at a rate of 2.5 x hourly rate.

Temps and Full time both must benefit from this model.

Companies should be given a tax break for implementing green policies that require offices to shut down most floors at 8pm to conserve power.

This will:

Improve work life balance and employee health. Incourage full employment as companies will save money and risk by hiring staff rather than overpaying OT payments. Positive Green impact by saving late night power consumption. May help the birthrate in Japan if people have more home time.

Give it a try! The most productive nations in the world have 37.5 average work hours and greater domestic full employment. This does work.

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tkoind2

there you go again, suggesting common sense solutions to very real problems in Jpn,you know the J-powers that be dont like any of that.

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I had interesting conversations with my fellow japanese engineers, the deadline does not change. That's fine but if the planning is to short i am not going to work my but off, the idea of changing the plaaning and telling the customer is unheard here

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I am with flammenwerfer.

Myself done the 9~5 grind plus 24/7 callout, often 2~3 a night. That includes driving to work, fixing the problem and than going home again. Some nights I just said screw it and stayed at the company.

Nevermind that sunday evenings was scheduled maintenance time on the mainframe(4 hours). System cut-overs, taking a system/client in-house often resulted in 72hrs works non-stop.

Can't recall how often I stayed at work after a call-out to start the 9~5 grind, or how often I got home showered/changed and went back to work. Did we get time off for being on call-out, NO-WAY JOSE.

There were months where I "tripled" my salary with over-time.

Yep, played heck with my private life, yeah, I earned a lot but couldn't keep a GF that would stick with me.

2:00am get paged. Sorry luv need to go if I am not back just close the door when you leave.

Japanese company, not even close. I worked for an American company at that time(some 12+yrs ago).

Japanese companies are NOT worse than any others out there.

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Labor bureau rules that Toyota engineer died from overwork

That's ridiculous, overwork never killed anyone, Bad diet, nutrition and lack of exercise cause heart disease.

Ten minutes of stretching and arm flailing, as many big company's do in the during their morning meetings doesn't do Jack Shxt for your body...

There is no substitute for 30 minutes (or more) per day of a good long run...

And you can't lead a sedentary life for 30 years, then all of a sudden decide you want to start running...Doesn't work that way folks....

So you have that beer & smoke and enjoy that nightly trip to the Izakaya, and just remember, you get what you deserve.

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Health is the last thing to be naive about. Acquaintance of mine played tennis regularly, rode a bike on a weekly basis, worked out, ate healthy, didn't smoke, only drank socially - keeled over dead at 42. Not because he wasn't leading a healthy lifestyle, but because he had family risk factors for sudden heart disease he didn't know anything about - or rather, chose to ignore because he thought he was healthy.

Look, overwork can kill you, particularly if you have risk factors you're not taking into consideration. My own cardiologist tells me this on a regular basis, and she has a lot of similar stories. Unless you intimately know your own risk factors, you'll have no idea how close you could be to stroke, heart attack, quick killing cancer like stomach cancer. A cousin of mine died of stomach cancer in five months, from diagnosis to grave. Many of these things aren't all that apparent until they blow up.

Exercise, healthy life style is good - no question about it, but if you think that alone will protect you, you're wrong. Understand your health history, understand your family health history. Don't just assume you're healthy because you feel fine. Remember, you are NOT a doctor.

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Agree with xeno.

Healthy life-style alone won't protect you. Way more factors involved.

How many athletes died young? Yeah, they had the best guidance, nutrition, etc.

Example: Cancer/depression/etc can hit anyone it don't care about life-style, nutrition, etc.

How many Top-earners turned to drugs, etc? They had everything and yet they still got hit.

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more like died from sitting in his cubicle all day then going out and drinking too much crap whiskey and smoking too many crap cigarettes and eating instant noodles for dinner

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never work for a Japanese company. never.

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There are no real effective unions in japan. So workers are just slaves to be abused as the management sees fit. At my company, all overtime is unpaid. I naturally don't do overtime as I don't work for free but some of the japanese male workers are doing 3 to 4 unpaid hours a day!! Crazy but the workers are always kept in a state of fear about getting the chop. Is this living??

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80 hrs. OT = 20/week = 4 per day = Big Whoop!

The far more insidious problem is that if you speak with the people catching the last train home from work...more likely than not they CHOOSE to be at work. Given the abysmal conditions back in the mansions, the comforts of an office (a chair, desk, internet, free tea, AC, and a little elbow-room) seems like paradise.

(Crappy Home Life plus Crappy Job - Vacation) x (No Hope)= Death at 45 (q.e.d.)

What other country in the world does one hear Hang in There! and Persevere! (i.e. がんばって!) 10-20 times a day? Any place where someone needs to be continually encouraged to just keep going has got some fundamental lifestlye issues to address.

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(Crappy Home Life plus Crappy Job - Vacation) x (No Hope)= Death at 45 (q.e.d.)

Hilarious! But a bit long so I'll have to write it down on the back of my hand so I get 30 percent and pass those entrance exams.

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life is not about 'persevere' or 'endure', its about 'enjoy'..unless, apparently, you live in japan...or, north korea...maybe afghanistan

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I was talking to a Japanese friend when I was drunk the other day about how she works full time, plus overtime, for an extremely low wage and lives in a tiny box of an apartment. I said, 'Why are you even living for? Don't you ever think that there's more you could be doing in life?' and she said 'I don't know...'

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I was talking to a Japanese friend when I was drunk the other day about how she works full time, plus overtime, for an extremely low wage and lives in a tiny box of an apartment. I said, 'Why are you even living for? Don't you ever think that there's more you could be doing in life?' and she said 'I don't know...'

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Work for yourself, be your own boss and don't encounter these problems.

Then again, it is not just the corporate world that experiences "overwork." When I was a young officer in the army on deployment (both UN and combat-related), I would get 30 minutes sleep a night for periods of 2 or 3 weeks at a time. Indeed, despite 4 years of university at the tax payers expense, I was considered largely expendible. Such sleep deprivation, combined with the stress of the job (foot patrols in unknown areas laid with landmines and the occassional contact)tends to have a negative impact on your health. You also tend to drink like a fish when given the opportunity.

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Simple math... 9-5 = 8 hrs/day. 9-9 = 12 hrs (difference 4 hrs). 4hrs 5 days=20 hrs per week. 4 = 80 hrs per month... so if you work normally a 12 hour day then ... you're at death's door already ? The norm in Japan appears to be a 12 hr day, so this guy must have been doing 9-1am every day (sounds like me :-(

Toyota should have been sued big time here. The problem in Japan about working hours is at the employers side - not the Government nor insurers.. All Toyota is saying above is that they'll make sure that Employees go on the regular yearly medical checkup - were the Government simply takes samples of blood etc for statistical analysis, and if anything's wrong with you, your employer can fire you...

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I don't doubt that he worked himself to death but it happens in many lesser jobs too. Between my first drop out of college and going back to finish my degree I worked for a restruant chain as a general manager. 60-70 hour weeks were pretty normal and I can tell you that people are not built to live like that. Companies and workers alike need to realise the limits. This guy was under pressure in a product develoment timeline but many workers in Japan are simply working these kind of hours accomplishing nothing because it's part of the company culture.

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I worked for a German company here in Japan last year, and the president of the company came over here, and couldn't understand how Japanese work so many hours and achieve less results. And he had a valid point. I watched Japanese staff members run around like headless chickens in the company, and yet, most of the time they were doing nothing but having meetings about meetings! I felt sorry for the guys who only saw their kids twice a year - Golden Week and Obon - and their families. The sick thing is, Japanese people really believe you have to be a hard worker for the company to be worth anything in society. The other sick thing is - they work for a salary that in the USA and UK for example, was made illegal years ago. Who in their right mind is going to sit in an office all day for $7 an hour?

Japanese working conditions are an abomination to the rights of men and women alike. And while the senior authority figures at the top have the power to change things, they don't, simply because they lack the conscience of guilt when they make their subordinates work hard to fatten their pockets!

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Japan's toyota fame going down, with this kind of news about staff , and working conditions.

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