Do Japanese Corporate Employees Love Working Even More Than Americans?

Japan is legendary for its insane work schedules. Corporate employees in America are known to love to stay and work unpaid overtime, but in Japan it’s not unheard of for employees to keep inflatable beds around so they can sleep at the office. The Japanese language even has a word, karoshi, that means “death from overwork”.

The main difference between American’s long hours and the long hours worked by Japanese employees lies in the context.

Americans love being at the office because they hate their lives and hate spending time with their families and would rather be at work. Japanese, on the other hand, do so to show loyalty and spirit. Indeed, Japanese corporate employees have told me (off the record) that they feel bad about being absent for much of their children’s lives, but they cannot leave the office because no one else is leaving; it’s like a giant game of “Chicken” that everybody wins*. And staying at the office makes them look good in front of their boss.

It’s not that Japanese workers necessarily love working the way Americans do, it’s just that that’s how it’s done in Japan.

*or loses, depending on how you look at it.

2 Replies to “Do Japanese Corporate Employees Love Working Even More Than Americans?”

  1. Well, actually many Japanese work long hours so they don’t have to see their children and wives too…

    But yes it is also a big game of chicken that everyone “wins”. HAHAHA

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