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Japan May Require Workaholics to Take Time Off

In Japan, only wimps take a vacation.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

If you think Americans are bad at using up their vacation days (and they are), the Japanese take the brass ring in the workaholic race. After spending years studying legislation to get Japanese workers to take vacations, a law will be submitted to the current parliamentary session that will force employers to ensure that workers get the breaks they need.

Japan has been studying such legislation for years. There has been more impetus for change since 2012 as a consensus developed that the health, social and productivity costs of Japan's extreme work ethic were too high.

Part of the problem has been that many people fear resentment from co-workers if they take days off, a real concern in a conformist culture that values harmony.

After all, in Japan, only wimps use up all their vacation days. The workaholic lifestyle and related reluctance of couples to raise children have long been blamed as a factor behind the nose-diving birth rate that's undermining the world's third biggest economy. Working literally to death is a tragedy so common that a term has been coined for it: "karoshi." The government estimates there are 200 karoshi deaths a year from causes such as heart attacks or cerebral hemorrhaging after working long hours. It's aware of many cases of mental depression and suicides from overwork not counted as karoshi.


-- The Associated Press