Japanese workers have a reputation for diligence but, as with all cultural generalizations, the reality is more complicated. Ever wonder why public service is the most coveted line of work for new university graduates? Is it because they actually want to serve the public, or because the pay is relatively high and the job guaranteed for life?

Even if the answer to the latter is “yes,” that doesn’t mean bureaucrats can’t also be hard workers. However, unlike private-sector employees who have to prove themselves on a daily basis, especially now that “lifetime employment” is but a fond memory, public-sector employees can work at their own pace and go home promptly at 5 p.m.

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