Japanese Employees Are Working Themselves To Death

The problem is so widespread, there's even a term for it — "karoshi," meaning "overwork death."

More than 20,000 people in Japan kill themselves each year — and now, finally, the government is planning to do something about it.

The East Asian island has the highest suicide rate among all G7 countries and ranked 6th in the world at 19.5 suicides per 100,000 in 2014. One of the biggest causes of it is overwork by corporations; such deaths are termed as “karoshi.”

Tokyo is now seeking a 30 percent decrease in suicide by 2025 and the government approved a plan this Tuesday seeking to curb extreme work hours in companies.

The measures come after 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi, an employee working for Japan’s biggest advertising agency, Dentsu, took her own life on Christmas 2015. The young woman worked in excess of 100 hours of overtime per month and also had to do weekend shifts. Her high-profile death prompted CEO Tadashi Ishii to step down and the government to give out new guidelines addressing issues like excessive overtime, postpartum depression and prejudice against women in workplaces.

Tokyo will also address the high rate of suicides in youth by promoting educational efforts to students on how to seek help at school. It will also assist municipal authorities in preventing suicide.

 Banner, Thumbnail: Reuters, Yuya Shino

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