Are Working Hours Too Long In Japan?

One of the most read stories on SNS news site mixi News yesterday was based on a 2ch thread that decried the long working hours in Japan.

A recent survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation(JTUC) showed that average working hours in Japan are 8.9 hours per day, which for 2ch netizens was just too much.

It’s also worth noting that recent OECD data show that annual working hours are actually higher in the US than they are in Japan.

mixi netizens agree that current working hours in Japan are long, but many think that they are also necessary if people want to maintain a certain lifestyle.

What do you think? Is 8 hours a day too much? Or a distant dream compared to your 60 hour week?

From mixi News:

People Agree That “Working 8 Hours A Day Is Too Long To Begin With”; “It Would Be Ideal To Work 6 Hours A Day Four Days A Week”; “People Work Too Much”

According to a survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation(JTUC), Japanese workers work on average 8.9 hours a day. It is assumed that most people return home after doing over an hour’s overtime added to 8 working hours per day.

Amidst this, on August 27, opinions to the effect that “an 8 hour working day in itself is waaay to long” appeared on, and the thread became busy. The OP called themself “corporate slave”, and had doubts about long working hours. They revealed their own discontent with work, saying that “I get paid for all my overtime, but I don’t actually want to do a single second of overtime at all”.

“6 Hours A Day Would Be Good” “I’d Rather Do A 13 Hour Day But Have 4 Days Off A Week”

There were a lot of opinions agreeing with these statements. As expected, a lot of people felt that “8 hours a day, 5 days a week was tiring as hell”. Someone suggested that “6 hours a day would be good”, saying that it would be better to work 9am – 4pm with an hour break, and that “people work too much”. There were also those who said that they should have more breaks, and that “6 hours a day with a 4 day week would be ideal”.

There was also someone who didn’t like working 8 hours a day and so became self-employed. Apparently it was difficult at first to make the business stable and to guarantee and income, but they said that “Now if I work 7 hours a day and have three days off a week on the whole I can make a decent living without too much trouble”. The only thing was that if they were to have an accident or become ill, their income would drop to zero, so that was a concern.

And from those who live in a different place to where they work, there were suggests about how to reduce the number of days they work, since if you go out to work five days a week, then pretty much all your time is taken up commuting and this makes the hours you work in a day longer.

“It takes me 1 ½ hours each way to get to and from work. So the total journey is 3 hours there and back. In that case, to a certain extent it’s not really worth it for me unless I work long hours. So couldn’t I work 4 days a week and do 13 hour days?”

Is The Day Coming When People Are Free From Work?

But there were also posts that say long working hours were inevitable. “If you don’t do overtime then your wage will be so low it’ll kill you”. However, the root of the issue was that the basic salary is set too low. So perhaps it is necessary to either raise the base salary, or to establish a personnel system where we evaluate work based on its results rather than on the amount of time we’re at work.

By the way, those people who claimed that an 8 hour working day was long also questioned why humans still had to work long hours at all, when in the 21st century science had come so far.

“If we assume that virtually all work can be done by machines, and humans are happy to do as little as possible, then there would be no need for them to work at all, but for some reason this hasn’t happened”.

Will the day when people are free from work ever come?

Comments from mixi:

Even if labor gets mechanized, that doesn’t mean that humans will become aristocracy. They’ll just become unemployed.

I reckon that the biggest problem for people who say this kind of stuff is that they tend to think that even if they were to reduce their working hours, the people around them would continue to work without changing a thing, and the same services would continue to be supplied to them.

A lot of people will be thinking, “Man, I’m jealous that you only have to work an 8 hour day”.

So go ahead and work those ideal hours. But you’ll have to give up on your ideal salary and your ideal job, OK? You should know that the world ain’t gonna go the way you want, and there’s no reason it should.

Sure. The working hours of someone guarding their own home 24 hrs a day 365 days a year are too long.

In Europe, this kind of thing would be, quite obviously, expressed through a protest. But in Japan, it just becomes 2ch fodder. We really need to think about the difference between those two things.

We work too much and our wages are too low! We sell things cheap and increase the amount of work…Although the number of conveniences we have like computers and stuff should be on the rise, why are we all still working overtime? (´・_・`)

It’s thought that we divide one day into three parts, then we work for 8 hours, we sleep for 8 hours, and we have 8 hours for ourselves, but the most dubious out of these is that we actually have 8 hours for ourselves. There’s even less when you take commuting into account.

It’s only the Japanese who are stupid enough to work too much…There are still idiots around who think that it’s erudite to work long hours, so it’s really unbelievable…why don’t they realize that it’s incompetence if you can’t complete your work within your working hours?

I’d be happy if they’d just include the commute in the working hours.

Someone must have made a society and working environment where if we work for more than 8 hours we can just about live day to day without missing any meals. And we’re the ones doing as best we can to do that! Hmm…how about that.

Rather than saying working hours are too long or too short, it’s actually more important to say “Can I save enough to get by from my wage?”

8 hours a day would be fine if that included both your commute and your breaks. We work too much and we make others work too much. Back in the day, there were no convenience stores and there was no such thing as next day delivery. But we still got by.

Best thing would be that we got money even if we didn’t work (*^^*)

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