Better Life Lab Podcast

Work Till You Die

In Japan, workers are so used to working punishingly long hours that dying from overwork is a common phenomenon.

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In Japan, workers are so used to working punishingly long hours that dying from overwork is a common phenomenon—so common, in fact, that victims’ families can and do routinely apply for worker compensation benefits. We tell the stories of Japanese workers caught up in a system of overwork, young activists trying to change that system, and a professor trying to make sense of  it all. Is it an exclusively Japanese phenomenon? What can Americans learn from a culture of overwork?

Guests:

Hiroshi Ono, professor of management at Hitotsubashi ICS in Tokyo and expert on Japan’s culture of long work hours and karoshi, or death from overwork

Yuki, founder of Workaholics Anonymous in Tokyo

Makoto Iwahashi, student, journalist, and organizer fighting long hours with labor activist group Posse

Miki Tanaka, former Japanese spa worker challenging her former employer for unpaid overtime work

Podcast production by David Schulman.