A new white paper published by Japan’s health ministry has brought to light the grim connection between the nation’s gruelling working hours and the alarming rise of depression and deaths attributed to overwork, known as “karoshi”.
The disturbing trend has raised concerns among critics, who argue that reported cases to health authorities represent only a fraction of the true numbers, and they are particularly troubled by the increased suicide rates seen in the country.
According to the health ministry’s report, last year saw a distressing total of 2,968 deaths in Japan attributed to suicides linked to karoshi, a significant increase from the 1,935 cases reported in 2021.
The white paper underscores a clear correlation between the incidence of karoshi and the number of working hours, with 10.1 per cent of men working a staggering 60 hours or more per week, and 4.2 per cent of women exceeding this threshold.
It is worth noting that karoshi can be triggered by various health issues exacerbated by work-related stress.
READ MORE: The British women who sang for survival in a Japanese prisoner of war camp
In 2022, 803 people sought compensation from the government for conditions such as brain or heart diseases brought on by work-related stress, an increase from the 753 cases reported in 2021, although lower than the peak of 938 cases observed since 2000.
Critics argue that the cases reported to health authorities likely represent only a fraction of the true number of individuals suffering from karoshi-related health problems.
What’s even more troubling is the sudden surge in suicides last year, reversing a decade-long decline in the number of people taking their own lives due to work-related pressure.
Spending more time outdoors boosts people’s health and productivity, study finds[INSIGHT]
Robbie Williams admits: ‘I slashed my own wrists'[VIDEO]
Doctor recommends 10-3-2-1-0 sleep method for a better night’s rest[DATA]
The burden of excessive work hours appears to affect certain demographics more severely, with men in their 40s and women in their 20s being particularly vulnerable.
Approximately 13.2 per cent of men in their 40s and 4.9 per cent of women in their 20s work at least 60 hours a week.
The figures are even higher among the self-employed, with 15.4 per cent of self-employed men and 7.8 per cent of self-employed women regularly working 60 hours or more.
Furthermore, the study has unveiled a strong connection between the number of working hours and the prevalence of depression, with 26.8 per cent of both men and women working over 60 hours a week reporting that they believe they are suffering from some form of depression or anxiety.
- Advert-free experience without interruptions.
- Rocket-fast speedy loading pages.
- Exclusive & Unlimited access to all our content.
Bill Cleary, clinical director of the Tokyo-based TELL Lifeline counselling service, expressed a sense of “helplessness” regarding this situation.
He stressed that the issue of overwork has been recognised as a significant problem by politicians, companies, and individuals since the mid-1980s, but effective solutions have yet to be implemented.
Cleary also highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to social isolation and made it harder for people to forge friendships and maintain relationships.
Speaking to the South China Post, he said: “It is very clear from numerous studies that social interactions reduce a range of complaints, from high blood pressure to heart disease, and if we are isolated at the same time as our workloads are ramped up, then it is understandable that we see a greater number of karoshi cases.”
Source: Read Full Article