As noted in my last several posts, Japanese salarymen worked long hours without overtime pay for a selfless reason: to pull their defeated country up by its bootstraps. And they succeeded wildly. By 1978 Japan had surpassed Germany to become the world’s second-​largest economy, a position it held until it was pushed down…

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  • Issue Year 2016
The word “karoshi” was invented in 1978 to describe an increasingly common phenomenon: Japanese workers, mostly the venerable salarymen, were dropping dead of heart disease in the prime of life. There was a reason it all happened in the 1970s. The shocking — to the Japanese — and humiliating loss in World War II had caused the…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2016
“Karoshi” is a Japanese word that means, literally, “death by overwork.” For nearly half a century it’s been quite common for Japanese workers, usually the legendary “salarymen,” simply to drop dead, almost always from heart problems, after working long hours for many years. Other Asian cultures, especially, South Korea and China, experience a…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2016
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