The research aims to look at the work ethics of men in Japanese culture. Work ethics in this sense will be looked at from a workaholism point of view. In the end, this will develop awareness about variations in workplace ethics. Japanese men have been known to work for long hours than other men in other countries.
It is has been proved that individuals with a high level of centrality seem to work for long hours. In addition to these, it is also clear that men have worked for long hours than women in their specific fields. Married men have gone the extra mile in working for more hours. A replication of this particular trend is common in the private sector in which working hours tend to be longer in comparison with the public sector. As a result, this has led to workaholism.
Workaholism can be said to be a situation where employees over-commit themselves to work through their time and energy. On the contrary, this workaholic nature to work has had devastating effects on the Japanese people. This is in terms of their happiness, danger to their health, interpersonal relations, and social functioning. Most of the workaholics work for 50 hours a week but it can also be viewed positively on how it affects their satisfaction. In other words, it can be termed as an irrational commitment to excessive work with other addictions. Concerning this, terms of involvement, enjoyment, and the force felt to work are reviewed in that manner. Workaholism should be steady without a temporary heavy workload.
In the course of people working for long hours (as Japanese men have done) they are driven by; job rewards, managerial or professional positions, work leisure trade-off, a demanding organizational culture, social contagion, and employers’ demands. Such devotion to work might not be entertained by other organizations that strictly conform to work ethics.
The Japanese economy has a national outlook as far as working for long hours is concerned. On the contrary, western countries seem to enjoy the pleasures of the good life. Japanese men are more committed to work than their western counterparts who always prefer going on vacations.
The reasons behind these are somehow economic and social- cultural. They believe that work is what one should do as long as they are human as an end to itself. As one works, he/she will be carrying out obligations that they owe to society and themselves (Kanai, 2008, p.18).
Skilled workers believe that they should work without raising any questions or complaints. This trend has been strengthened by the fact that the time one spends on his/her desk is the devotion and submission they give to the organization. Because of these long working hours, men in Japan have been exposed to grave repercussions i.e. Karoshi (death that comes because of overworking). In Japan, most of these victims have worked for 3000-3500 hours per year and as a result, died from subarachnoid hemorrhage. As a result, it has led to almost 1000 deaths in a year (Kanai, 2008, p.15).
Workaholic men in Japan have spent more time at work and neglected important social, recreational, and family activities. Eventually, those observed to work for long hours are people with soaring levels of centrality. Men have worked for long hours because they view themselves as the providers of their family and hence need to balance between work and family demands.
Fathers have worked more than fatherless men work and therefore ended up being considered as ideal candidates for part-time work. This working culture has been well suited for entrepreneurial ventures where they can manifest their devotion to work. Workers who are in the public sector and secure with their jobs do not feel the urge to work for more hours.
Married men with non-working spouses have more financial needs that compel them to work for long hours. The private sector presents the highest number of workaholics and is considered a common male phenomenon. Japanese men work for long hours because the country has a higher work centrality. Nevertheless, on a more different note average annual working time in Japan has been decreasing over the years (Kawanishi, 2008, p.17).
The Japanese government has moved fast to reduce the working days to five to discourage workaholism among men. Emerging trends among the youth do not speak anything better as they are not ready to sacrifice their ambitions and private life for the sake of the companies. Japan seems to be one of the most overworked countries in the world (Kanai, 2008, p.5).
On the other hand, some men in Japan have been asked to volunteer for overtime or work that has been considered unpaid. From 1980 to 2000, the average annual working hours have been decreasing for those in their 30s and 40s (Kawanishi, 2008, p.7). The long-term interpretation has been that this group has a higher workload. The government has insisted on shorter working hours after coming face to face with realities on the effects of long working hours on the male population.
There is a relationship between work centrality and workaholism. The culture of workaholism can be supported from a biological notion point of view. As more men hold, high places they have made the women become workaholics so that they can also advance in the workplace.
Men have a greater probability of being workaholics because of the existing conceptualizations about workaholism in Japan (National defense counsel for Karoshi victims, 1989, p.8). Therefore, sex roles can be used to shape work patterns and behaviors. Social identity is considered positive when one works for longer hours, and this is a motivation for men. About the Japanese culture, men who work for short hours are considered lazy in their jobs.
Therefore, companies that come to Japan to do business are supposed to develop cultural variations concerning workaholism. This is because most employers have overvalued the tendency to work for long hours. It should be understood that long working hours would not necessarily translate to productivity. On the contrary, it will lead to negative health effects like Karoshi (Kawanishi, 2008, p.3).
The more men have many depends is the more they will tend to work for long hours so that they can improve their financial positions which is a subjective perception. Most of these Japanese men who work for long hours have a college education, are married, and live with their partners in a joint household (National defense counsel for Karoshi victims, 1989, p.6).
As a result of this culture, where men work for long hours Japan has recorded many cases of serious health complications and even death. This explains the rationale behind Karoshi, which has been dominant in the country. The long working hours by men are because of their adaptation to the work environment.
Health implications of this culture (Karoshi)
Long working hours have been because of the emerging economic trends. (Ministry of health labor and welfare, 2004, p. 10). The country has had inherent health problems like hypertension and arteriosclerosis. In the process, the life maintenance function has been ruined due to excessive fatigue. Most deaths have been because of cerebral diseases and mental disorders. The government was only able to approve Karoshi after many negative effects were seen because of excessive fatigue and weariness. In 1998, it was estimated that 10, 000 workers died because of work overload (Ministry of health labor and welfare, 2004, p. 12).
Although Karoshi affects both men and women, the problem seems to be more prevalent in men. This is further reinforced by the fact that those who work for long hours are not keen to review these. The hours worked by male workers in their late 20s and 30s remain long in Japan while the hours worked by young and senior workers remain shorter.
The heavy workload has shifted to even more regular employees than those who are temporarily employed. Because of a wide restructuring program, the economy has had layoffs and high unemployment that has forced many men to work for long hours. Some young men have tried out many jobs so that they can explore their potential but in the process ended up working for long hours.
To solve the problem of Karoshi it has been proposed that there should be the introduction of white-collar exemptions to allow for more flexible work (National defense counsel for Karoshi victims, 1989, p.8). This system will lead to reduced work hours without losing annual incomes. The white-collar system will increase the worker’s overtime without pay.
In the end, it has been proposed that organizations and individual workers are supposed to be aware of the link between long working hours and Karoshi. To these effects, organizations should take initiatives to oversee appropriate work hours are adhered to by their employees.
Working for long hours not only leads to Karoshi but also other undesirable consequences. One of these consequences has been workaholism and as a result, most men have had job stress and health complaints. In the end, workaholics have overworked themselves. Most workaholics are assistant managers who are seeking promotions (Ministry of health labor and welfare, 2004, p. 9).
On the other hand, long working hours have also led to problems of work and family balance. This has led to work and family conflicts as men do not give their families enough time in the course of them overworking themselves. As men become busier, they think less about their families. In addition to these when they have conflicts between work and the family they develop negative feelings towards their family.
Men who have homemakers have limited involvement in family life and as they become busy, they take fewer roles in the family. Whenever there are conflicts because of this, men tend to perceive that the family wants to take away their time from work.
Japanese men have been known to work for long hours than other men in other countries. It is proved that individuals with a high level of centrality seem to work for long hours. On the other hand, it is also evident that men have worked for long hours than women in their specific fields.
Workaholism can be said to be the people’s over-commitment to work through their time and energy. On the contrary, this workaholic nature to work has had devastating effects on the Japanese people. In the course of people working for long hours, they are mostly driven by; job rewards, managerial or professional positions, work leisure trade-offs, a demanding organizational culture, social contagion, and employers’ demands.
Japanese people love to work more than their western counterparts who prefer going on vacations. The reason behind the men working hard has been economic and social-cultural. Workaholic men in Japan have spent more time at work and neglected important social, recreational, and family activities. In the end, people with a high level of centrality have worked for long hours.
This working culture can be well suited for entrepreneurial ventures where they can manifest their devotion to work. Workers who are in the public sector and secure with their jobs do not feel the urge to work for more hours. There have also been inherent health problems like hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Although Karoshi affects both men and women, the problem seems to be more prevalent in men. This is further reinforced by the fact that those who work for long hours are continuing with this trend.
- Kanai, A. (2008).Karoshi (Work to Death) in Japan. Japan: Nagoya University.
- Kawanishi, Y. (2008). On Karo-Jisatsu (Suicide by Overwork): Why Do Japanese Workers Work Themselves to Death? Japan: Tokyo Gakugei University.
- Ministry of health labor and welfare. (2004). White paper on the labor economy. Tokyo: Gyosei.
- National defense council for Karoshi victims. (1989). Karoshi. Tokyo: Futabasha.