I don’t get the whole working overtime thing that the Japanese have going. The June 25 article “Unpaid overtime excesses hit young” and Keisuke Akita’s July 7 letter, “The dreams of young workers,” don’t teach me anything except that people are mules.
Japanese enter the workforce expecting overtime work because it’s part of the work culture here. But whatever the explanation, it ought to stop because overtime is not normal.
Overtime work is inversely proportional to the mismanagement of a company and its personnel, or the degree of managerial incompetence. Companies are not just unattractive but ridiculous if overtime work is part of their recruitment pitch.
I suggest that Japanese adopt greater trust in the written contract, allow for the influence of contracts to grow against the influence of human relations in the workplace, and seek self-actualizing personal identity and fulfillment outside the workplace — not in it. After all, we do not live to work. We work so that we can live.
Personally my employment contracts are the Word of God to me. I am reliable, persevering and very hardworking within the parameters of the contract’s provisions. Most importantly, my contracts specify my working hours and when the time is up, I am out the door. It doesn’t matter if there are still papers on my desk. There will always be paper. It never ends. So I carry on the next business day where I left off the day before. The promise of remuneration for overtime does not attract me, and if the boss or coworkers are still busy at work, I suggest they go home, too.
The economic miracle that saw Japan rise from the rubble of war to one of the greatest economies on Earth has less to do with racial virtue, or dedication to company and hard work, than with the miracle of protected markets.
So Japanese workers ought to learn that they can afford to take a breather.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.