Japan Proposes Overtime Limit to Fight ‘Death from Overwork’
Japan's government has proposed new limits on the amount of overtime employees can work.
The restrictions would cap overtime to 100 hours per month and 720 hours per year. The plan is supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the reforms are expected to eventually be approved by parliament.
The government has said the overtime limits aim to fight what the Japanese call "karoshi," or death from overwork.
Japan's business culture has a long history of demanding that employees work many hours of overtime. An online survey last year also found that most Japanese workers only take about half the number of vacation days they are given.
The dangers of long working hours were highlighted by the 2015 death of an employee at Japanese advertising company Dentsu. The 24-year-old female employee committed suicide after complaining to family about the long hours she had to work.
Public outrage over the woman's death led to the resignation of Dentsu's CEO last January. The company's new chief has pledged to obey all labor laws and carry out reforms to protect the health and safety of employees.
Michael Cucek is with Temple University's Japan Campus. He says efforts by the Japanese government to improve conditions for workers are seen as a good thing. However, he and some Japanese activist groups believe the proposed limits are too high to truly make life better for employees.
"The number is absurd - that in a single month, one can have 100 hours of overtime, is simply a ridiculous number."
A government report said last year that about one in five Japanese companies have employees who work such long hours that they are at serious risk of death.
The report found that nearly 23 percent of companies had some employees working over 80 hours of overtime a month. Medical officials have noted a greater possibility of death from work among people working at least 80 overtime hours per month.
The survey also showed that about 21 percent of Japanese employees work an average of 49 or more hours each week. That number compares to 16 percent of American, 13 percent of British and 10 percent of French employees.
Cucek says the woman who killed herself while working at Dentsu is an example of how work isolates many Japanese workers.
"She was living not at home, but in a corporate dormitory. So there was never anybody to talk to. Never any way of her breaking out of the environment where ‘you must work, you must work, you must work,' was being pressed upon her."
He said he hopes new overtime rules will send a clear message to Japanese companies that they can no longer demand an environment leading to employee health problems and death.
I'm Alice Bryant.
1.aim to 计划；打算
They aim to clear every dealer from the street.
2.no longer 不再
After about three months, I was no longer addicted to nicotine.
3.breaking out 逃脱；摆脱
After breaking out of the jail, he hid out in a deserted farmhouse.
4.activist groups 活动组织；激进组织
Coca-Cola has struck up partnerships with at least some of these activist groups.
1.A government report said last year that about one in five Japanese companies have employees who work such long hours that they are at serious risk of death.
at risk of 处于...的风险
He saved three children alive at risk of his life.
An estimated seven million people are at risk of starvation.
2.The 24-year-old female employee committed suicide after complaining to family about the long hours she had to work.
committed suicide 自杀死亡
After the scandal was exposed, Dr Bailey committed suicide.
He committed suicide rather than face the shame of being linked to the scandal.
计划规定每月加班时间不可超过100小时，每年不可超过720小时 。该方案得到了首相安倍晋三的支持，预计改革终将由议会批准 。
日本企业要求员工长时间加班的文化由来已久 。去年，一项调查发现，大多数日本员工只休了一半左右的假期 。
2015年，日本电通广告公司一名员工自杀突显出长时间加班的危害 。年仅24岁的女员工曾向家人抱怨长时间加班后自杀身亡 。
女孩的不幸引起众怒最终迫使电通公司CEO在去年一月份引咎辞职 。该公司新任首席执行官承诺将遵守劳动法律并进行改革保障员工的健康与安全 。
迈克尔·库赛克（Michael Cucek）在天普大学日本分校任职 。他说，日本政府努力改善员工就业条件是好事 。但他和一些日本活动家组织指出，日本政府提出的加班时间限制仍然太高，无法真正改善员工生活 。
这份报告还发现，约23%的企业存在一些员工每月加班超过80个小时的情况 。医务人员指出，每月加班超出80个小时的员工死亡风险更高 。
调查还指出，约21%的日本员工每周平均工作时间不低于49小时 。而该比例在美国为16%，英国为13%，法国为10% 。
“她远离家人，只身住在公司宿舍 。周围没有人可以倾诉，也没有办法摆脱这种‘你必须工作，必须工作，必须工作’的强压环境 。”