When you have created a term, karōshi, in to define people dying from working too much, it’s safe to say that you need to take action. That’s the reality in Japan, a nation that ranks among the lowest in the world for mandatory vacation and features a populace that is essentially working themselves to death.
Suicide rates are spiking with 10,000 attributed to overwork, while strokes and heart attacks are prevalent in the work force. Something needs to change and the Japanese government is looking to do that by forcing folks to take vacation. From The Atlantic:
The Japanese government is considering making it mandatory for workers to take at least five days of vacation time a year. Currently some 52 percent of paid leave granted to Japanese workers goes unused, according to a 2013 labor ministry survey; prime minister Shinzo Abe’s administration hopes to bring that number down to 30 percent by 2020, under legislation it is preparing to submit to the legislature…
Moreover, a culture of long, punishing hours at the office deters many women from staying at their jobs, a trend that officials want to reverse to bolster Japan’s shrinking work force. “We must also reform the work style that places importance on the amount of time spent working, an orientation created by men,” Abe said in a speech in May. He vowed to give more consideration to “work-life balance [and] creating a society in which women shine.”
This isn’t the first time that the Japanese government has attempted to combat overwork in the populace. In the past, they’ve encouraged workers to take a half hour nap in the middle of the afternoon to recharge those batteries (don’t mind if I do), and they’ve even gone so far as to create a new holiday for folks to celebrate:
Most recently, the government approved a new national holiday, “Mountain Day,” giving citizens “an opportunity to become closer to mountains and give thanks to their blessings.”
It should also be noted that while Japan is one of the worst in terms of mandatory vacation time, they’re still ahead of the United States. We don’t offer mandatory vacation time at all.
(Via The Atlantic)