Japan is not only famous for its high suicide rate, but it’s also famous for its high death rate due to karoshi (died from overworking).
Today we discuss Karoshi (過労死) in details, from the meaning of the word to the causes and symptoms of it.
Karoshi is a situation where someone dies from working to hard, and it usually happens to people who work overtime too much.
Illnesses like headache (dizziness), irregular heart rate, stroke, and sometimes sudden death might happen if you’re tired from working too much.
In addition to the above illnesses, people suffering from Karoshi usually also have mental disorders, causing most of them to commit suicide.
The word “Karoshi” can be found in an English dictionary, and this word is used in various countries across the world.
Sudden death is the last stage of Karoshi.
Early stage symptoms of Karoshi are headaches (dizziness) and nausea.
At this stage, the body of people suffering from Karoshi already gave signs that they cannot work too much anymore, but usually they just ignore the signs.
They tend to work even harder and eventually will die.
The symptoms of Karoshi are as follows:
1. Irregular heart rate
People suffering from Karoshi usually feel drained and have irregular heart rates. Sometimes they also feel difficult to breathe.
Headaches (dizziness), hearing loss, fatigue, and vertigo.
3. Mental disorders and suicide
Working too much can give you mental disorders.
People suffering from Karoshi usually have mental disorders, and eventually they will commit suicide when things go too ugly.
4. Traffic accident caused by lack of sleep
People suffering from Karoshi are usually lack of sleep.
Most of the time they will fall asleep while driving, and this usually causes traffic accidents.
In addition to traffic accident, some of Karoshi sufferers also found dead in their bathtubs, from drowning themselves after falling asleep while taking a hot bath.
Just like a car, our bodies need maintenance, and Karoshi is a condition when our bodies break apart from overwork without having any maintenances.
Why Japanese people work too hard?
Many of us have questioned why Japanese people never change their jobs and choose to work even harder despite being caught in a bad work environment.
People who died from Karoshi usually have a strong sense of responsibility and don’t like bothering others, so usually they tend to not share their tasks and problems with their co-workers.
They tend to keep everything to them and bottle up their emotion, and eventually they’ll have mental breakdowns and commit suicide.
In general, the flow of Karoshi symptoms is difficult to understand by those who don’t suffer from Karoshi, but it is a lethal disease that can kill us.
So, when does overtime become dangerous?
Japanese employees overwork almost every day, and having overtime is like a culture in Japan.
Long-established companies and senior employees tend to glorify the overtime culture, and to prevent death from Karoshi, Japanese government set a limit for overtime.
Usually people who have 80 to 100 hours of overtime suffer from Karoshi.
Why 80 to 100 hours?
In general, human needs 6 to 8 hours sleep a day, and those who sleep less than 6 hours are at higher risks of getting heart diseases and strokes.
People who overwork more than 80 hours per month usually only sleep for less than 5 hours a day, and they are at higher risks of sudden death.
The revolution of working condition in Japan
We often see, or read news about Karoshi in various types of media, and eventually Karoshi has become one of the most serious problems in Japan.
The Japanese government enacted laws to reduce Karoshi, and Japanese companies started prohibiting their employees from working overtime.
In recent years, Japan had become better at dealing with Karoshi.
The Japanese government finalized a law that limits overtime, and most Japanese companies encourage their employees to work within the specified hours.
Some companies even prohibit their employees from working overtime.
Being diligent and having a strong sense of responsibility are a good thing, but we need to keep in mind that overdoing it will cause Karoshi.
Make sure to always take care of both your physical and mental health while working to avoid Karoshi!
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