Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Japan: Death by over-work

Four hundred Japanese workers die yearly from being overworked by their bosses, official statistics say. Some experts put the real number of deaths in the tens of thousands. Japanese bosses expect their workers, from head doctors and engineers through to factory workers, to put in many hours of “voluntary” unpaid overtime every day.

The result is a social crisis of work-related deaths from starvation diets, sleep deprivation, heart attacks, strokes and even suicide. In one case, a restaurant manager suicided after being bullied into working 15 hour days with only one day off per month. Deaths from this hyper-exploitation grew markedly in recent years as Japan’s economy was engulfed by the world crisis of capitalism.

Australian bosses also prop up profits through their increasing use of unpaid overtime. The bitter experience of workers in Japan is a serious warning of the consequences if we fail to fight the trend toward intensified exploitation here.

By Kirk Leonard