This country has quite the reputation when it comes to work ethic
Japan has quite the reputation when it comes to work ethic and workplace expectancies. However, one recent case has managed to shock the world’s media once again, as reports emerge of an employee being punished for starting his lunch three minutes early.
The 64-year-old worker from Kobe was fined for leaving his desk three minutes before he was supposed to over a seven-month period. The worker also had his pay docked by half a day.
Speaking to the AFT, a spokesperson from his employer - the waterworks bureau – said: “The lunch break is from noon to 1pm. He left his desk before the break.”
Officials at the bureau labelled the man’s conduct ‘deeply regrettable’ and bowed in apology – the Guardian reports.
Japan has a long culture of strong work ethics sometimes erring on the side of unhealthy. In fact, the word Karōshi can literally be translated as "overwork death" in Japanese. This sprang from a spate of employee deaths related to workplace stress and long hours.
In the 1980s, several high-ranking Japanese executives died suddenly at a relatively young age without any previous signs of illness. From there, the government published statistics which found one quarter of male working employees worked over 60 hours a week.
A few years ago, Matsuri Takahashi, a 24-year-old advertising executive at Dentsu, committed suicide, after leaving a note for her mother asking: “Why do things have to be so hard?”
The outpouring of public outrage led to the Tadashi Ishii, president of Dentsu, to step down, saying it was "extremely regrettable" they had failed to "prevent overwork by a new recruit."
"In order to take full responsibility, I would like to resign as president at a board meeting in January," he said.