Inside Story

Will Japan’s overwork culture change?

It is known in Japan as “karoshi” – death linked to exhaustion – and thousands die in this way every year.

When the 24-year-old woman jumped to her death in December last year, she left a note for her mother.

“Why do things have to be so hard?” she asked. She had been working about 100 extra hours a month.

Her company – advertising group Dentsu – is under pressure to reduce the amount of overtime its employees do.

In November, it was raided by labour regulators. The government ruled the woman’s death was due to overwork.

About 2,000 Japanese people a year take their own lives for the same reason.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, is pushing to reform Japan’s employment laws, which could include tighter overtime regulation for companies.

But will the culture change, and what happens in other countries?

Presenter: Sohail Rahman


Seijiro Takeshita – professor in the School of Management and Information at the University of Shizuoka

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet – columnist for The Telegraph newspaper in the UK

Daniel Bernmar – city councillor for Gothenburg, Sweden