Japanese workers put up with long hours and unpaid overtime under pressure from cost-cutting companies, and figures from government, which wants more money in workers' pockets to boost consumer spending, appear to underestimate the problem.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to enact labor reforms as part of his "Abenomics" plan to end decades of stagnant growth and deflation. His proposals include measures to cut working hours and limit overtime, raise wages for temporary workers and make things easier for employees with children.

By law, both management and rank-and-file employees should get paid for extra work, but companies have been discouraging overtime claims for so long that employees accept it as normal.